The Coronavirus and its effects are a perfect example of Temporary Permanence (which I have written about before, see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/paradox-temporary-permanence-my-cochlear-implant-journey-weiser/). I thought it would be helpful and instructive to revisit the topic during this trying time. Temporary Permanence is a paradox when something is simultaneously temporary and permanent. How can this be? Our world, personally and professionally, is constantly changing and being disrupted. There is no real stability or permanence, only Temporary Permanence. COVID-19 is a very real and dangerous part of the world we live in, but only temporarily (in the overall scheme of things). So, what can we do in the meantime?
COVID-19 is scary, unpredictable and hard for us to understand and explain. We have seen the havoc it has and will cause. We can easily become paralyzed by this. Or as difficult as it is, we can do what the Brits do – “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Specifically, we can take these 5 steps, personally and professionally, to help us through this disruption and better prepare and ready us for future ones.
1. Accept and understand our new reality.
2. Become and help others and stay prepared, ready, and able to act and adapt.
3. Act and adapt.
4. Learn from this experience.
5. Position ourselves to thrive in the future.
To do this, we must be open to challenging and constantly testing our assumptions, beliefs, mindset, and mental models and even to working in new ways with others. This is a critical set of skills and capabilities we need not only to survive today’s challenges but also to thrive in the future.
Our resolve, resilience, and belief that failure is not an option force us to challenge what we thought was permanent and stable. Around the globe we are trying and must try new things, sometimes dragging our feet and kicking and screaming, to address the risk posed by face-to-face and group interactions in our daily lives. It is driving/eliciting creative responses and experimentation to see what will and won’t work and helping us to learn how we can adapt and collaborate with others to keep working at finding and deploying solutions to the enormous challenges and hardships we face.
We are doing this in many ways small and large. Whether it be stocking up on food and cleaning supplies or vigilantly practicing the best personal hygiene or preparing for an extended stay at home. We are challenging the assumption that education can only take place in a physical classroom and responding with online teaching and virtual classrooms because we cannot allow education and learning to stop. We are doing the same thing in the business world with respect to customer and employee interactions, determining how, when and if meetings are held, and finding new ways to work and help one another and our customers.
While a cliche, it is darkest before the dawn. It feels that way now. However, I feel confident that we are going to be pleasantly surprised by what we are capable of achieving. We have the obligation and the potential, with the right choices and perspectives, to help ourselves and each other in the near term and to learn much from this time that will help us in the future.
Things may not go back to what they were before. Why? Because the world and we’ve been unalterably changed, learned and adapted in the process. That is OK. We may even be better off when we face future disruptions because of our level of preparedness and readiness and how we chose to respond. We know the Coronavirus won’t last forever and it will not be the last or necessarily be the biggest challenge we individually face (despite how it feels today). Think about what others thought after other major disruptions and maladies like polio and measles, the Great Depression and Recession, and horrible events like 9/11 and its after-effects. Yet each time, those who chose to proactively and thoughtfully respond versus being passive have come through stronger, despite serious and even debilitating impacts at the time.
We can’t change the challenge we face. It is our reality. Often, like now, it does not feel like we have many choices to make, but we do. Those choices, how we think, and the actions we take can determine if we barely survive or, better yet, thrive in the future. It is ours to decide.
What have you and will you do? I believe that collaboration and learning are essential parts of the process. More than ever we need each other’s support and ideas. We need to listen, ask questions and learn. We are in this together and will come out this together. Please share your experiences and lessons learned. Join the conversation, we need to hear from you. If you want to discuss your situation click on Contact tab above. I am here to listen, challenge your thinking, and support you in these efforts. Be strong, be thoughtful, and stay safe!