John C. Maxwell once said, “Change is inevitable... growth is optional.” With COVID-19, everyone, especially business owners, have had to face the harsh reality that we cannot control external forces of change; we can only control how we respond to it. Of course, it's only natural for change to cause anxiety; after all, this is a difficult season in life for everyone, at some level. Businesses have been rattled to the core and challenged to quickly adapt their business model to the current climate.
Considering everything that is happening, I wanted to pause for a moment amidst the chaos to share a few specific insights regarding how we may view and manage change.
1. Avoid wasting unnecessary energy & time on wishing or waiting for things to return to "normal." According to Merriam-Webster, normal is defined as "conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern;" however, what you consider "normal" is simply the way you are used to doing things, which is individually unique to you. Take the time to stop and use good situational judgement to evaluate your current standing, and what you can do now to better serve your customers, employees, your family and yourself.
2. Be open to learning how to do things differently . . . quickly or on the fly. Leave your ego at the door and ask yourself
What new tools & resources are needed to safely continue to serve our customers?
How can best we modify our operating model to better support employees as they also try to care for their families?
What do I, as a leader, need to learn more about to make this happen? New technology? New service delivery models?
Who has the expertise to assist us in making this happen in the time needed?
Many years ago, while having lunch with a business colleague, I opened a fortune cookie which contained a message which I have always lived by:
We press on in doing what we may not know how to do, so we may better learn how to do it.
My take on that? I believe in and am committed to a life of continual learning. However, sometimes you just may have to figure it out as you go. Don't wait until you think it is absolutely perfect; chances are you won't have time. Test and adjust, test and adjust.
"We cannot control external forces of change; we can only control how we respond to it."
3. As much as possible, focus on doing everything with a positive mindset. Avoid saying things like, "Yeah, we're going to have to figure out how to do this online meeting thing . . ." Instead, say "Hey, we are going to get to learn how to use this cool new technology so everyone can meet from home and take care of their family!"
Let's face it . . . this pandemic has forced us all to up our game in improving our comfort level with technology, in short order. And while it's been uncomfortable and challenging at times, the reality is, in "normal" circumstances, we may have never pushed ourselves or our team members to try it. There is a silver lining in every dark cloud. And our businesses will definitely be the better for it.
3. Learn from your challenges. So that first Zoom call didn't go so well? Don't give up! Believe me; people are more forgiving now than ever in that so many people are learning to use new technology tools. Remember: You didn't fail if you learned from it. Note what went wrong and try again! Better yet, reach out to someone you know who does these calls really well and pick up some pointers.
4. Celebrate the victories. We have had the great privilege of working with many of our clients in developing and implementing new web, virtual meeting, and e-learning tools as they adjust to these changing times. And the best part about it? Celebrating after each new launch . . . their first successful virtual meeting, online election, e-learning course launch and more! Celebrate your accomplishments, the growth of your business and team!