Whether you’re dealing with a change in personal circumstances, or the disruption of this global pandemic(!), the language and attitude we adopt will help us to determine what happens next.
Our thoughts, words and actions direct our steps, and play a large part in shaping our future. Right now, we’re being swamped with language about people “panic buying”, “going broke”, “losing businesses”, “shutting the doors”, being “stuck at home”, “driven by fear”.
But what if we shift our focus, and instead use positive language to redirect our attention? What if we work towards having a ‘growth mindset’ – one that sees the possibility of change – instead of a ‘fixed mindset’ that only sees failure?
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Instead of seeing ourselves as victims, we can position ourselves as leaders of our own lives in this unprecedented time, and embrace and adapt to the changes that are occurring. The circumstances around us will remain the same, whether we take an opportunity approach, or an impending doom approach – but it’s our hearts and minds that will experience the shift.
The Many Creative Responses to Rapid Change
In a couple of business networking groups I belong to, we have started to brainstorm about what resources we have in our hands, and what opportunities we can take hold of in this altered business environment.
If your business cannot operate as normal in the current climate, consider how you can “pivot” – or alter your direction – and roll with the change. By shifting their focus, many businesses have begun tapping into new income streams, in response to the social distancing rules that only a few weeks ago threatened to sink them.
“Instead of seeing ourselves as victims, we can position ourselves as leaders of our own lives in this unprecedented time.”
- A number of swift-thinking restaurants and cafés in my area have turned themselves into takeaway and meal delivery services, and are doing a roaring trade – something they would never have expected.
- Gyms and dance schools have begun conducting on-line classes – both to stay afloat, and to continue providing value to their members and students.
- Zoos and aquariums have begun streaming live footage of their animals at feeding time.
- Musicians have begun hosting paid online gigs.
- Luxury brands are retooling, and producing medical items that are in high demand – like hospital gowns, personal protective equipment for medical staff, and hand sanitiser.
Talk to Others, Brainstorm, and Find Opportunities
What opportunities can you find to adapt to this season of change?
If you’re a business owner or professional, talk with others in your field to swap ideas. Can you find creative new ways to provide your existing services? Or can you instead use your resources and knowledge to provide a completely different service to your current customers?
Try to identify gaps in the market that have only appeared since the pandemic has reached Australia, and use your current skills to fill that space.
If there are skills that you and your staff will need in the future to grow your business to the next level, identify an online course that you can all do now, while your business is on hold.
And yes, the financial strain is real – so make an online appointment with an accountant or financial planner to give you ideas on how to stretch your resources for the next 6 months.
Learn a Skill, Finish a Project, Make New Connections
For those who are not in business, or are now unemployed, this is also a time of opportunity.
You may have dreamed of writing a book, learning an instrument, or a new language – but have never had the time to start. Now could be the moment, using online technology to access courses and tutorials. Many of us have unfinished projects – art, craft, sewing, photo albums or home renovation – that we could finish in this season of waiting. One friend of mine, a missionary, has taken the opportunity of the time at home to begin an online theology course, to further his understanding of the Bible.
Despite the social distancing rules, this season is a chance to build relationships and form new ones, too:
- Families divided through busy schedules, now have the chance to spend more time together, and become more connected.
- People who have felt disconnected from their local community have an opportunity to greet their neighbours and have a chat – even if it’s from the driveway.
- A truck driver I know of who lost his job, has begun volunteering his time to deliver meals to seniors isolated in their homes.
- And my friend who studies psychology and is isolated in his university lodgings, has begun reaching out to other students on campus, sending them care packs with an encouraging letter, and coloured pencils so they can get started on some art-therapy.
See This Season as an Unexpected Gift
We need to become strategic with this time that has been given to us, and use it to get ourselves ready for a new world once this virus has run its course.
Accepting our circumstance, staying thankful, and deciding to make the most of it, can shimmy us down a path we would never have taken without this forced adjustment.
You can begin to adopt an attitude of thankfulness and growth today, and it doesn’t cost anything – but you really have to make the effort.
With social media and online meeting software, a great way to start is to create a group or an online meeting with people who will take this approach with you. Why not set aside an hour a day for a virtual coffee to map out strategies and ideas together? There are already many online groups that you can join, so go in search of one that’s already running, that uses positive language.
By surrounding yourself with people who are moving forward positively, you will find it more natural to do the same. Personally I’ve found great encouragement and support from a confidence coach, as well as some other vibrant business women in my networks, who have all encouraged each other to lead the way in cultural change.
A new world has arrived. Will you hide from it—or embrace it with everything you’ve got?
Kerin Jarvis is businesswoman in Western Sydney who provides administration support for tradies at “Behind the Boots“, has worked in small business mentoring and leadership, and is involved in various business networking groups.