New doorways have appeared. Pathways through old thickets are emerging. Worn roads are fading as fresh tracks are made on new byways.
The sound you are hearing is change. The specter of death has created something else, the possibility of life anew.
As many have retreated, the old, limiting rules of the status quo are giving way to blank pages waiting for something new to be written. Your life has changed and the time has come for you to make a choice: wander in the desert searching for what was or walk into the bright new country of hope and possibility waiting for you to determine what might be.
People are stil retreating. There is still much fear and uncertainty. Everyone is on their heals. Now is your chance. There is a window of opportunity. Will you climb through?
What exactly am I talking about? I’m talking about taking a different approach. I’m talking about looking at the world through a different lens. Virtually every industry in our country has been impacted by the pandemic. Everyone is having to rework their model to adjust. Old assumptions about what is needed are changing. Hiring plans are changing. Strategies are evolving. Incumbents are reeling. Many are trying to find a path to playing it safe – how do we protect, retain, and maintain? Now’s your chance.
Opened in Vulnerability
Right now, everyone needs something different. A new strategy. A new tactic. A new idea. Hope. Energy. A different perspective. A fresh insight. Conversations have turned in new directions. People are open in new ways as the old distractions have been replaced. Family is front of mind. Safety is front of mind. Priorities are different. Within this new framework, we are all a little raw and vulnerable. The onslaught of COVID-19 has made us feel physically vulnerable and with it is an unnerving emotional vulnerability. A fragility that has softened us and opened us.
I’m not not talking about weakness. I’m talking about the hard outer shell of certainty softening to accept a new uncertainty – and the openness to new ideas that it requires.
What does this mean for you? It means that you need to turn your gaze outward. Not toward the COVID-19 horizon – that horizon only holds more fear and uncertainty. Unless you’re an expert in unraveling viral mysteries, curing them, or healing others from them, you need to look past Coronavirus and toward a different horizon, a place operating in the long shadow of COVID-19 but defiantly moving past it. The place where we still have to find ways to thrive in spite of all of those things we can’t control.
What We Need
What do people need right now? What do your clients need? Your patients? Your students? Your community? How are companies serving those needs? What is missing? What conversations are people having? Are you in them? No, I’m not talking about the arguments surrounding political reactions or appropriate social distancing, I’m talking about real discussions on how we move forward. Real problem solving. Everyone with whom I speak has new challenges in front of them. New demands for employees. New dynamics in their supply chain. New burdens on their customers. Who wins in this world? Those who have ideas. Those who are rolling up their sleeves and trying to make a difference. Or, as my friend Greg says, “Those who are running to the fire,” rather than retreating from it.
Unemployment claims climbed toward 17 million last week. That’s a lot of people not collecting a paycheck. It is also a broad government statistic. Every individual has an opportunity to reinvent and redeploy their talents. The massive market in which we exist still has huge needs. Struggling businesses must retool. Entrepreneurs have to recreate.
Complaining about unfairness or inequality in whatever market you exist is not going to help your employees or your customers. Will you get government money? Perhaps. Can you afford to wait and see? That is not a strategy. Keep hoping but know that the only answer is to 10x your efforts in a new direction.
What are you doing to be of value? How do you make yourself a lynchpin to someone willing to pay you? What are the big and little problems that need to be solved? What are the questions your clients and customers are not asking? How are you anticipating the needs of others and showing up with ideas to address them?
In spite of the dark cloud of COVID-19, I see incredible opportunities right now. The suffering world in which we exist is hungry for problem solvers. Businesses, individuals, governments, and the myriad organizations that constitute the structure of our society are desperate for creativity, proactiveness, and effort. There are many big and obvious opportunities to meet emergent demand relative to COVID-19. Great, keep working to solve those problems.
However, there are even larger opportunities in the places with unasked questions. Where do we go from here? What can we do to anticipate new demands? What products and services might be valuable to markets that don’t yet know they need them? There are lots of people trying to answer the obvious questions. What are the less obvious ones?
Look into the horizon, can you see it? That’s you down the road. With you are your family, friends, co-workers, employees, community, and nation playing their parts in this narrative. It is a post-COVID-19 world full of possibility. Take your place in the epic. We will be fighting this attacker for months or years to come. Fine. It’s time to accept the uncertainty and look to the next horizon.
Can you hear it? That is the sound of opportunity in the calls from a market hungry for answers to new problems. Can you feel it? That is the feeling of your new life; the one you are proactively building through and beyond the current pandemic. Wherever you are in the continuum of Corona-chaos, there are possibilities waiting for you. Can you see it? I can.