“Great moments are born from great opportunities.”
– Herb Brooks
These are strange times, full of uncertainty and fear. It is also a time of opportunity. While never one to be the Pollyanna, “every cloud has a silver lining” type, I am one that is well conditioned to the Stockdale Paradox, that realism is balanced with optimism. Yes, the situation might seem dire at the moment, but it is the situation at hand and we have to deal with reality as it is presented, yet holding firm to the conviction that in then end things will be well.
While I do not advocate looking at the current Covid-19/Coronavirus as a “great opportunity”, I absolutely believe everyone should view it as at least an “opportunity”. While it is cliche, every setback, every challenge, every obstacle is truly an opportunity. And as Coach Brooks said so well, from those opportunities can come great moments. It is incumbent on us to recognize the opportunity and create the moment. Nothing will happen unless we actually do something. We have a unique and unprecedented opportunity in our professional and personal life.
Professionally, it is a time of rapid change, of questions of what will be, how to adjust and position for a new future. We are all finding out what roles can or cannot be “remote”, what tasks and roles are “critical” and what are “nice to have”. Pivot to what is critical/essential and shed what is not. Take the steps now to position yourself and your business for tomorrow, for what lies ahead, not for what was. If things are slow, finally get all those administrative things done, catch-up on the reports, get the new marketing plan finally launched, update and get ahead of all the little things that bog you down in the normal times.
As a leader, lead. Be the voice of calm, of reason. Set the tone by being balanced and decisive, yet compassionate and aware. Care for your people, put their well being at the fore of your decision making, both in the moment and especially for the future. Make the hard, right decisions, both for your people and the business. Share information, the plan and the vision; communicate.
On the personal front, and especially for those who are now firmly in the “work from home” or “self quarantine” category, embrace the time. Spring cleaning, attack that seemingly never ending list of household chores, of projects large and small, of “someday when I have the time…” list. For the next few weeks, we have been given the gift of time. Go through the closets, the attic, the basement, purge the clothes you never wear, donate to the local charities. Someone out there can benefit; someone actually needs what you do not want, what has been collecting dust in your home for years. But above all else, do not be selfish; do not put others in jeopardy because you are inconvenienced. Be patient. Be kind.
On the family front, embrace the time with family. The constant excuses, commute time, the dinner meetings, the soccer or band practice, none of those apply. Sit down as a family for meals, take the time to digitally detox, to actually get to know each other as people. Walk the dog together, play a board game or cards as a family, binge Netflix as a family, finally take up running/walking, play catch in the yard, tackle household projects as a team. In short, be together and be present.
And for all of us, let’s embrace the opportunity to be a better person. A better neighbor, co-worker, friend and family member. To be a better team member of society, of our communities. Let’s help others, let’s make decisions that are beyond ourselves. Perhaps we can all make some great moments born of this opportunity.
If all else fails, just watch the clip from Miracle.