Metacognition is thinking about what we are thinking about. If we can be aware of what we are thinking about, we can choose what to actually think about. Or can we? Do we have a choice about what we spend brain time on? Can we make a literal choice on how we consume mental energy?
I am working diligently to inform my followers about the lessons we can gain from this once in a lifetime experience. No matter what we face, there is always opportunity to be earned for someone willing to learn. We can complain about reality or look for ways to adapt and thrive. Thriving, I have discovered, accompanies those who have a healthy network of people who know them.
We can still win this! Consider this your halftime pep talk. There is a significant polarization among attitudes toward 2020. This year sucks. We need a 2020 do-over. I am so over 2020. Blah, blah, blah. If you have mentally checked out over 2020, it is time to rethink opportunity. Winning takes talent, hard work, and luck. Luck somehow seems to find those that work hard. Winning repeatedly takes character. Giving up is easy. Quitting when times are tough can become a habit and a way of life.
Humans are highly social people, and we need interaction with others to perform optimally. Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success”. As we reopen the economy and the workplace, some leaders are considering WFH as the ideal strategy to reduce cost and offer employees more flexibility. For some people, in rare cases, this might work satisfactorily. However, for most workplaces, this portends disaster for employee engagement and productivity.
It is convenient for people to blame current events on the decay of humanity. It is tempting to see darkness and dwell on the lack of optimism. Reports of rioting and looting are like a horrible train wreck that we cannot stop watching. We can dwell on this negativity and allow it to stain our view of people, or we can look for the beauty in people. Gandhi said we must not lose faith in humanity.
I broke the rules. I’m guilty. I attended a funeral. I hugged the widow who was married for 42 years, and I shook the hand of a son that lost his dad. I hugged a grandson that plays baseball with my son. He just lost his grandfather who he lived with until his death. I know I broke social distancing rules but I couldn’t help it. I guess I stink at this new reality. My need to show love overwhelmed my fear of this virus.
I can see clearly now the rain is gone. These immortal words by the great Jimmy Cliff resonate with me and the hundreds of supervisors I have shared this powerful insight about leadership. The truth is, most supervisors still believe in and adopt the approach for control rather than influence. It is not their fault. We have been using the same model for management since the early 1900s. This carrot and the stick methodology is management 1.0. What if there is a better way? What if there is an easier way? What if there is a more powerful way to get desired behaviors from your teams? Enter choice architecture.
We are now in a race after two months of lockdown. What does a competitive advantage look like? Those who know “get it” and those who don’t, well this writing is for you. The pandemic has disrupted the economy and companies are racing back to the front of the field. Think of a major accident in a stock car race. We have been under the caution flag for over two months. This is a tremendous opportunity to reset the competitive field in any business sector. This is a chance to win the race. The harder your business has been hit, the bigger the opportunity.
Once thriving businesses are now scattered across the country in the ash of this pandemic. We don’t hear the story of the cinema operator in rural East Texas or the travel agent in Montana. The tour guide operator in Arkansas will never make the national news. There are burnt corpses of business that most people will never hear or read about. You are real none the same. You are legitimate. You matter. The entrepreneurial gamble is taken by so many people who risk everything you own on the chance of free enterprise. In the book, E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber calls it the entrepreneurial seizure. After coronavirus, how do you recover? How do you rise from the ashes?
The challenge facing many businesses is unprecedented. We are likely to have a wholesale shift in demand for long-time institutions of the past and the present. Some businesses, as we know them, are going to evaporate. This virus is killing businesses with as much vigor as it has people. Tragically, some businesses have been infected and do not realize it. The question for many business leaders, as we start to reopen the economy is, should I rebuild the business or do I reboot. Should I rebuild as it was, presuming demand will return or reboot to something else?
The coronavirus is an additional challenge impacting demand for energy. We don’t know when demand will increase or how fast. We do know, however that it will increase at some point. What goes down must come up. People are not going to abandon planes, trains, and automobiles. People need plastics. People need chemicals.
We are defined by difficult moments in life. Our response to adversity is the pivot point in life. We can pivot to bitterness, or we can pivot to betterment. It is our choice. Like many others, I watched my eighteen-year business lose ninety-five percent of its revenue in less than a month. I felt helpless to make a difference. I felt trapped by frustration. I was pissed off. I was sad.