As if things weren’t moving quickly enough as it was, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of progress almost beyond our ability to keep up.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi
We were already dealing with whiplash on an almost daily basis before the pandemic turned the world upside down. The evolution of the economy was already moving at an incredible speed, with multiple changes happening simultaneously in every corner and at every level. The past decade has been mind-blowing, with all the innovations in technology, a fractured media landscape, a monumental shift in how we engaged with brands, where we get our information, the inevitable move to online shopping, and the acceleration of home delivery. These were already happening before the pandemic, and then we were told to shut down and stay home.
We are only just now starting to regain some normalcy, while at the same time experiencing the worst of the pandemic. We have a vaccine, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we are nowhere near the end of it. It remains to be seen, what aspects of life will return to the way things were, and what will be irrevocably changed forever. But things are going to change for sure. It will never be the same. The best we can do is navigate the future as best we can, with the knowledge we have.
Here then, are five things we can do right now, to mitigate the murkiness of the situation and make it at least manageable, if not fertile ground for opportunity and success.
When life feels like it’s spinning out of control, it’s always helpful to try to keep things as simple as possible. This doesn’t mean you should think small, far from it, but it will pay big dividends in the future if you can be more efficient now. It also doesn’t mean you should get tight either, holding on to whatever you have left, the fear of losing it controlling your every move. That will lead to atrophy.
The truth is, the fewer moving parts you have, the better off you’ll be.
It’s easier to be nimble and loose if you can try to focus on fewer things. Learn to travel light as they say. Don’t try to walk around carrying the weight of the world. Strip it down. Take only what you need. Set some short term goals and keep them simple as well.
In the best-case scenario, focus on one thing, and one thing only.
Determining what that one thing is a great exercise, to begin with. Decide what will make the most difference with the resources you have on hand right now. Stop trying to do twenty things half-assed, in the hope that one of them will work, and work hard at doing one of them, really well. Spend more time working on what that one thing should be, then you do on anything else. Well begun is half done.
2. Stay Focused
It’s going to be a lot easier to do one thing well, if you can stay focused. The best way to do that is to remove as much distraction as possible. This feels closely related to keeping things simple and it is, but it’s also different. Simplifying your focus is not the same thing as avoiding distraction. You need a mechanism that will force you to ignore the extraneous and allow you and your team to keep your eyes on the prize.
Set some filters to help you determine whether something is worthy of your attention. Does it further the goal? Does it fit your brand? You will need to determine your brand filters and they don’t have to be your usual ones. They can be very much a product of a short term goal. They are designed to keep everyone on track.
3. Embrace Emotion
Don’t be afraid to let wear your heart on your sleeve. We think of business as a serious thing, and it is, but now is a time to feel things. It’s been a traumatic time, not just for customers, but for employees. You can’t act as if nothing happened. We all need to acknowledge the trauma and find ways to process it, within the confines of the brand.
But all emotion is not negative of course. There is hope and joy, empathy, and excitement. Don’t tell them what to think, tell them how to feel. Tell them how you feel. Tell stories with happy endings.
4. Tell Stories
In a moment where we are often so cut off from one another, the need to hear stories, especially ones of struggle and triumph, is more important than ever. What are your brand stories? They are not likely what you think they are. They are not likely your own. They are the stories of your customers.
The customer is the hero of their own epic tale. If you can be a part of that very personal tale, you will be forever linked to their success. So don’t tell them a story where you are the hero, show them how your brand can make them the hero.
Celebrate the stories of people and the lives we lead. Life is precious. Talk about it.
5. Be Meaningful
When you are forced to examine your own mortality, life has a different level of meaning. What you wear, what you purchase, who you associate with, and how you spend your time are all very important. They are even more important now. Be meaningful in how you walk and talk. How you carry yourself and your brand.
When you are talking to your customers, think about how to help them make their lives meaningful. This should not be a jacket your throw on, a bit of wall covering, but an integral part of the fabric of who you are.
6. Be Authentic
Be yourself. If you don’t know who you are, now is a really good time to find out. If you aren’t sure, ask around. If you don’t like what you find, now is the time to change. Be honest. Be insightful. Be realistic. Be real.