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In Her Own Words: Proximity matters for Truth Collective’s Tracey Miller

Truth Collective Truth CollectiveJun 15, 2021

Tracey Miller

Tracey Miller of Truth Collective, was featured in The Business Journals BizWoman published June 14th, 2021. Interview by Ellen Sherberg.

As our communities reopen, women reflect on what the pandemic has meant to their families, colleagues, customers and communities. For the creative agency where Tracey Miller works, collaboration flourishes when people are nearby.

On March 16, 2020, we made the decision to send everyone home to work for an undetermined period of time. The experience was a bit like jumping out of an airplane in the dark. I felt pretty sure we would be okay, but where we would land? Would it be in an open field of opportunities or a thorny treetop of hard decisions? Turns out it would be both.

I am a firm believer in the adage “good sailors aren’t made in calm seas”. I’ve never learned anything significant that didn’t have an entrance price of some level of pain, so I didn’t shy away from the challenges we were facing. Neither did our leadership team. We rolled up our sleeves to craft a strategy not to weather the storm but to kick its ass. We had the fire of a band of shipwrecked passengers determined to get off the island together with a cache of coconuts to boot.

I remember thinking we’d be back in the saddle in a few weeks, maybe a month or two. As the weeks turned into months, the high I felt with locked arms against adversity waned and I found my energy was deteriorating. It was like a heavy sigh blanketed every corner of my life. I found solitude in my garden in the beginning of pandemic isolation but by the time we were raking autumn leaves I hit my energy bottom. The pace of my life had become plodding.

The sounds of my work village were missing – music on the Sonos system, the buzz of the team solving hard problems around the whiteboards, noisy hand dryers and the laughter in the kitchen. I was alone in my home office with just the company of my dog sleeping on my feet under the desk. Turns out I couldn’t muster the same excitement for achievement by myself.

Another leak in the energy bucket – the blurring of work and personal boundaries. I could brush my teeth, dig into my work, but I found I was still at my desk at 10 o’clock at night. Thankfully, my husband would come in and gently point at his watch to signal my compulsive “just one more thing off the to do list” mentality had gotten the best of me…again.

Vaccination is creating opportunities to see each other in person, with real faces. My boss turns to ask me “what if we did this…” and I can feel some gas on the fire. I now truly appreciate how much the drive I share with my team is dependent on proximity. The ways we connect when we are together in three dimensions is critical to thriving. I won’t lose the deep introspection and self-care I cultivated in isolation; my garden will continue to be worthy of a passerby’s pause. But I will be present for the people in my life at a new level. I won’t take for granted how much it matters that we share space in our village.