‘After coronavirus, when will we get back to normal?’ I hear people ask. Can we go back, and do we want the ‘normal’ we had? An analogy is that when an elastic band is stretched, it never goes back to its original structure. The whole world is being massively stretched into new ways of behaving. They say it takes a month to form a new habit and we are likely to experience several months of this dramatic change. Hopefully this time of social distancing and loss will teach us new habits, different ways of working and being; and what is truly important.
At a recent on-line business breakfast, a number of people were talking about when we get back to normal as if someone else will make things better or bring it about. I believe it is up to every one of us to make the changes we want to see. As Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ and that is never more appropriate than now.
Be the Change
Could we ever have imagined a year ago that we would be where we are now? Massive global change has happened. What was unthinkable only a few months ago has been achieved. Do we want change after coronavirus has been defeated?
In an interview with the BBC, Sir David Attenborough voiced his stark warning that the planet was at a one way door and we must change our ways. We cannot wait for corporations and political leaders to do that for us. Each of us can make small changes to reduce waste of every kind. If any good is to come out of this situation, let us use this time to find new ways of working which are right for us, our families, communities, businesses, and the planet.
What is your vision for the future?
You can choose to take this isolation time to consider what your vision is for the way you want your life and business to be going forward. If each of us makes the changes that we have control over, then together we can make a difference, even if it takes time. An example of this in practice has been with social distancing.
I would love to see a fairer, kinder world with zero contracts banned, key workers paid the right wage and people and the environment put before profit. Most of that I have little control over, so I need to focus on what I can do. To start with:
- I will improve my on-line training and coaching delivery, so people do not have to travel and can access when it is suitable for them.
- Our leadership development offer will focus more on stewardship and responsible wealth creation.
- I will price my services so they can be offered to a wider range of people.
- I will reduce my wastage of power, plastics and resources.
Now to Action
“A vision without action is a daydream, but action without vision is a nightmare.”Japanese proverb
In times of crisis, having a vision is the first step, but on its own is not enough. There is a need for leaders to face reality and take action. A volatile situation requires agility but it takes time to create that ability to think fast on your feet. You can use this time now to boost your incredible brain power and be more mentally agile.
Caroline Brewer, Designed2Thrive, has written in her article a story to explain this in terms of the thinking we utilise. It is about three sailors in separate boats who have the wind die on them while out at sea. They are becalmed, much like the world is now. The options are to be pessimistic and give up, hope for the best and sit and wait to be rescued; or take stock, trust your intuition and find a current to take you home.
It has more impact facing the reality and thinking about innovative ways to get you to where you want to be than sitting waiting for someone or something to rescue you. We all have innate creativity and wisdom to thrive; not just survive.
Do You Have a Plan B?
Jim Collins, in his brilliant book Good to Great, talks about the Stockdale paradox, where we have to balance faith that things will come right whilst planning for the worst to happen. You are then better able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Do you have a plan for the worst scenario? Neuroscience has shown us that our brains crave certainty and autonomy, so having our own options in an uncertain situation can help calm our minds.
Building a New Normal
In the decades BC (Before Coronavirus), there was a more deadly and pernicious virus; the impact of which we are yet to pay the full price for. The symptoms are too many leaders and corporations that put profit before people, shareholder returns before sustainability, with focus on short term rather than long term strategies, greed and individualism. All of which leads to consumerism plundering the environment. It is time for change and before you say that it won’t work, there are highly successful examples of companies and countries who have made these changes. If someone had said last year that the world would shut down for months, not days, would we have thought it possible?
Without change, we can slide back to BC ‘normal’, or after coronavirus (AC), we can create a new normal together by challenging and role modelling the right values and behaviours. We can become stewards of our world.
What Does Stewardship Mean to You?
Stewardship means that we manage, nurture and grow what has been entrusted to us so that we hand it over in a better condition to the next generation. If you are thinking of being a more socially responsible leader wanting a better future AC, then I highly recommend the book, Entrusted, Stewardship for Responsible Wealth Creation.
Authors Ong Boon Hwee and Mark Goyder offer plenty of examples of companies from East and West that follow a successful long-term stewardship model. They talk about the stewardship ‘value chain’ and lay out the stewardship responsibilities of owners, boards, investors and the state. Clear purpose and strong values are evident in well stewarded companies, along with a sound fiduciary duty.
I love their concept that well stewarded companies have a broader definition of success to include doing well, doing good and doing right. They see businesses as an integral part of society. Business success is driven by the health of the company’s relationships with five key stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and the community”
“A successful and enduring business needs to be anchored by long term owners who see themselves as stewards of the asset with which they have been entrusted“Ong Boon Hwee and Mark Goyder
What Future Will You Help Create After Coronavirus?
In summary, if you want a better future AC, then in the time you have to think now, you may like to ask yourself these questions:
- What is my vision for myself and the business?
- How can I improve my steward leadership?
- What is my strategy to achieve that?
- What is the first action I need to take?
- How can I increase my mental agility?
Find out more about boosting your mental agility and increasing innovation.