A Mile in Our Shoes: NBA Staff Reflects on Footwear as a Reflection of Daily Life

Our staff at NBA has been working remotely long before the pandemic. Although we are headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, many of our staff work across the country, from Boise, Idaho to the nation’s capital in Washington, DC. Traditionally, NBA holds two all-staff gatherings a year in St. Louis. These gatherings have offered staff a chance to connect in person. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we haven’t been able to gather safely in this way but we were still longing to connect. In October, we had the chance to meet virtually as a full staff.

In an effort to get to know our colleagues better and reflect on the last 20 months of the pandemic, staff was asked to share two photos of their shoes. One pair of shoes was dubbed the ”now” pair, the other, the ”going” pair. The goal was to reflect on what our current pair of shoes say about us, where we’ve been, and where we are now. For our future pair, we were to reflect on where we may be headed and what that says about us.

We split up into groups and discussed our shoes and reflections;  together in those small groups we came up with several shoe story journeys. Below you’ll find some of those stories as well as some photos of our staff’s kicks! 

YOLO (You Only Live Once): A Shoe Story

They took their new reality in stride, but over time they lost their will to look good in public. As time passed, they also lost the will to bend down and tie shoes. Slowly but surely, they began to embrace slippers, flip-flops, crocs, and old hiking boots that surprisingly worked for all occasions. Now, these NBA staff members are embracing the spirit of YOLO and stepping back into the world with new shoes and new attitudes!

Our Ode to Shoes

In general, one pair is never enough. 
We choose you by the ability to grip, not slide, balance, they must survive the elements; they help us feel confident, sexy, and fun. 
We need to be able to kick high and kick what’s not worthy of our time out of the day. 
As soon as we buy one, we sometimes discover the pair that we really want. 
You are under our beds, in our closets, under desks, and lay innocently at our front doors. 
There is comfort in you, shoes, and what you have seen us through. 
You are many. You take us on adventures from hiking trails, mountains, and natural springs, museums, coffee shops, and grocery stores; You help us run towards life and we remain grateful. 

The Story of Our Shoes

If all our shoes were friends, oh, the stories they would tell! Some may share the many miles of hikes, runs, beach walks, sermons, zoom calls, and even Rico’s [the dog’s] teeth. They’ve been sources of comfort, support, and balance through the tough road we’ve all been on. So, as we look to the future, we envision walking toward a better and brighter one, embracing the joy of life, self-care, and gratitude.



Taking the Next Step

Over the last several months, our shoes have represented our readiness to pivot. During this time of being safe—not stuck—at home, we’ve prioritized our health, wellness, and invested in our comfort. 

Now we’re longing for change, looking to take a small, but mighty step out of our comfort zone. Going forward we want to be somewhere else, change it up, but this time, we’re determined to be truer to who we are than ever before. These shoes that are lucky enough to take us on our next journey highlight our individuality, our personality and our commitment to community. We’re in no rush to ‘get back to normal,’ but are excited to reconnect with others and do a true 180 from where we’ve been.