Wellness Wednesday with Christy Pratt
Reportex President, Owner and Realtime Reporter Christy Pratt talks about leadership, self-reflection and ‘the new normal‘.
Three months ago when Reportex closed its offices and moved all but one of our team members offsite, we had no idea how long any of this would last or what the world would look like when we came out the other side. This pandemic has tested my leadership chops like no other event. With over 90 staff and contractors relying on me to get it right, I didn’t have the luxury of losing my footing or wallowing in self-doubt. I spent the entirety of March 20/21/22 having private Zoom meetings with each of my staff and reporters (roughly 50 people), putting a game plan in place so we could weather this storm of unknown duration together, as a team, while ensuring that everyone’s needs would be met. It was a scary, uncertain time for everyone, and the courage, understanding, flexibility and resiliency of my team buoyed me in profound ways.
Despite the many challenges brought about by COVID-19, this has been a time of tremendous reflection and growth for many of us. We all find ourselves re-entering a world that isn’t quite as we remember it. In speaking with our team members across Reportex, All-Star by Reportex and Island Reporters, I have learned that the idea of a return to “normal” is different for everyone. While many feel ready to leave the confines of home, others are feeling trepidatious. My team’s safety and wellbeing was front of mind for me when we entered this pandemic, as it will continue to be over the coming months.
When we first started isolating at home back in March, I like everyone found myself adapting to a somewhat new way of working. As a court reporter I’m very used to working on transcripts from anywhere in the world, but as a business owner I was very accustomed to conducting meetings in person. Technology is an incredible gift, and I rely heavily on it in both my personal and professional life, but it didn’t take me long to realize that ‘Zoom fatigue’ is real. I’ve never stared at my own image as much as I have these past few months, and a couple weeks ago I clocked 20 hours on Zoom in two days. At the end of that week I was out of words, and for those of you who know me, that is a very rare phenomenon.
On days when I wasn’t Zooming for days, I took some time to really examine the pace I’ve been maintaining these past few years. I’d been doing back-to-back realtime trials of huge complexity for the better part of ten years straight, and when I wasn’t in court, I was doing my other day job of running Reportex, including overseeing three expansions, hiring 20 new team members and acquiring two other reporting firms, all in the past 18 months.
The forced slow-down afforded to me by the pandemic gave me the space I needed to breathe and reflect, and it didn’t take me long to realize that what I thought was a healthy norm for me pre-COVID was, in many ways, anything but. I’ve always been extremely driven and my mind has always moved at Mach 8, but these past few months have allowed me to realize that if I dial back my enthusiasm to, say, Mach 6, I’m even more effective and productive than I was before.
Once this realization smacked me in the face, I decided to set some intentions for myself in an effort to create a new normal that wasn’t so exhausting and that allowed me space in my day to breathe, observe and be present. Now more than ever I want to achieve that illusive concept of “balance” I’ve been hearing so much about all these years. I still want – need, really – the thrill of the rush, but I also need the symmetry. And most of all I want to master the art of self-care, which is what will ultimately create the space I need to blend harmony with hustle.
My intentions are by no means novel (I’m sure they appear in some form or other in the memoires of highly effective humans that I’ve been meaning to read), but I designed them in a way that I knew would resonate with me. At 46, it’s unlikely I’m going to completely overhaul my life, so I needed to be crafty. Here are a few of my favs:
- Mindful Mornings. No more hitting the ground running the second I wake up. I’m slowing things down, meditating, enjoying my coffee and preparing for my day. The emails and messages can wait.
- Soulful Nights. No more crashing into bed after working 14-hour days week after week. I could easily work till midnight every night if I wanted to (and I did for years), but I no longer want to. Instead I’m wrapping up work by 7:00 and I’m spending my evenings cooking, reading and reflecting on my day with gratitude (and a slightly smoky single malt).
- Stop, breathe, trust. This is easily the most rewarding shift I’ve made as a leader, and it’s definitely been the most difficult to execute. Stopping myself from diving right in, taking a beat to take a breath and trusting that I’ve been clear in my instructions and expectations, eliminating the need for repetition and reminders. This is where the real magic happens in creating calm days and where I’ve really been able to carve out space for myself.
I’m delighted that we are introducing ‘Wellness Wednesday’ into our weekly blog content, as I think this topic is extremely important. I know I’m not alone in this period of self-reflection, and as we move forward it is my hope that we will all continue the healthy habits we’ve created for ourselves during this strange time. We went into this crisis together, and we will come through it together, hopefully a bit happier and lot more harmonious.