Much has been said, written and broadcast about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and I don’t wish to offer another take. It has all been covered well by experts, credentialled and armchair versions, alike.
I am producing a series of articles around what’s next. What comes after and what can we do now – and once the pandemic abates – to improve our circumstances?
How do we adapt and respond?
I purposefully avoid the sayers of doom, both lay people who love repeating their tales of dread and the ones armed with charts, graphics and statistics. Yes, it’s bad. We know it is, and whether the economy contracts by 5 percent or 10 percent remains statistical and doesn’t help any of us mitigate against that.
It is the same as a news broadcast describing a severe storm. Reporting on the storm can be dramatic and people are negatively impacted. But the effect of this is to mesmerise people to focus on the storm and its impact. Describing the weather has no effect on the weather. The storm is going to continue, spend its energy and complete its path.
There is a different position to take. One that focuses on survival, endurance and continuance, and perhaps even thriving and prospering. I prefer to take this position and do so in all conversations with clients and colleagues who reach out to talk. This is the distinction between what should and what is. What should, is the situation we want, what is, is the situation we have.
We can change our approach through a simple decision, but we then have to adapt behaviour to add action to the decision. So where do we start?
We start from where we are, which right now, is in the middle of a pandemic with an unpredictable timeline and outcome for every human on the planet. Even if you live so remotely that you cannot catch the virus, your community, country and planet has.
A pandemic which suddenly and abruptly has taken many things from us. Freedom of movement, certainty, confidence, income, the list is long.
But for all that, this pandemic has also given us a gift. The gift of time.
I mentioned to someone that not since childhood have I had so much time available. My entire adult life has been filled with “time thieves”. Tasks, work, activities, planning the next thing, the things we have to do – we never stop, even when we take time off. The virus has given some of it back. A lot actually.
Sure, time is not gained or lost. It’s in how you apply it. And that is what is happening now.
We have the opportunity to readjust to how we look at, and what we do with our time. Right now, I’m busier than ever. I hardly leave my desk before 8 or 9 p.m. – even before lockdown when I started isolating voluntarily. But my time is being used, really used. I apply time in a way that I have never before. As a creative, time management is a productivity killer. We don’t like those constraints.
But the ability to see time differently is huge. I use the time to do things that I have to – work for clients, produce material and then I use my time to do things that I want to do. And right now, what I want is not to lie on a beach or watch a movie. What I want is to use the time I have to figure out how I can reconfigure the way I do things, relook the way I see my everyday tasks and adapt to the new reality. And to do that for my clients. They brought me into their business and organisations for a reason, I embrace that I have to be the guy with the answers.
So, what can YOU do? Reach out to someone and talk possibilities, lie on your bed with a pen and paper. Draw or write out your dreams, your wishes, your blue-sky ideas. It doesn’t have to be judged right or wrong, crazy or sane, possible or impossible.
What this does is to also galvinise your attitude and create a lasting effect of replacing fear with focus, despair with doing and apathy with accomplishment. You are planning for a future different from the one you would have had if the virus didn’t strike. Your world has been shaken up – even if you want to, you can’t return to the normal of before.
And if you start preparing now for that future your readjustment to what normal is will be easier, you are taking control of outcomes.
You have an opportunity to do something with what is, not with what should.
It’s a choice.