The last few months have been a whirlwind. Things have changed so fast and for some so drastically that it has been hard to take time out to reflect and plan. Some have been brought down to their knees, some have been lucky and thoughtful enough to rise to the occasion; for some it has been a burden like never before while for some an opportunity to change things for good. Whatever might be the case, the past few months have truly changed each one of us in more ways than one. We cannot and should not let this change go wasted. When it is time to go back to normal, we must move to a new normal. Here are a few learnings, I hope each one of us carries forward with us for years to come.
Several organisations and individuals have shown tremendous agility in the past few months and that has helped them wade through successfully. Individual and business priorities have been updated, business plans have been changed, the way and medium of doing business and of communicating has moved to digital and more. However, agility and adapting quickly to changing environments is a quality to preserve for a lifetime – for individuals and businesses. Taking this one step ahead is the vision to foresee changes and taking appropriate steps well in time to adapt these changes. The skill to foresee upcoming business cycles is one that can be mastered by reading and staying relevant, which brings me to my next learning.
Off late several organisations have taken innovative steps to ensure they stay relevant even in a time when they are not spending big money on advertising or new product launches. Business leaders are coming forward and speaking directly or indirectly to all their stakeholders. Small steps like a simple packaging change by a chocolate manufacturer where they are thanking each and every stakeholder go a long way in staying relevant. But the question is why should this be done only during a crisis. Communicating and communicating innovatively and mindfully should be a learning that individuals and businesses must follow, always.
A crisis situation often forces us to reflect on several aspects and managing finances is easily in the top three. However, I strongly believe that managing finances is an aspect that should be top priority at all times – good or bad. What you ‘manage’ (read save) during good times is what helps you ‘manage’ (read sail through) during bad times.
Staying connected/Maintaining relationships
Be it business stakeholders, business acquaintances, friends, well wishers or family, staying connected at all times is key to maintaining good relationships. A phone call or a simple message at times does the trick. However, it is important to be genuine while staying connected. An exercise done just for the sake of doing it does not help. Understand the importance of staying connected and do it genuinely. Understand how your stakeholders, family members or friends like to stay connected and steer accordingly. The older generation may like a daily five minute phone call while the younger may prefer a weekly message. The older generation of stakeholders may prefer a message that takes them back to their roots while the younger may resonate with all things new. The bottom line is to customise your message and medium and stay connected with all your stakeholders.
Nothing lasts forever, neither the good nor the bad. While one may eagerly wait for the bad phase to pass, remember to always be grateful for the good times. I am often reminded of autobiographies of inanimate things we wrote during school days – of a coin, of a book etc. How we gave them life, starting from the current where they are old and tattered reminiscing of their good days and being grateful for the sunshine they have seen. The autobiography usually ended with waiting to be recycled, waiting to go back to being shiny and new. That is how we should live too – even during bad days be grateful for the good days, for the good life and for life generally.
If there is one thing the current situation has taught us – it is respecting nature. Humans may be the smartest living beings on earth (though that is debatable too) but they still live on earth only because nature allows them to. One small step by nature to reclaim itself can wreak havoc for humans. Respect the bigger force that is Nature. Learn to care for it at all times – not because nature needs the care but because we humans need nature to survive. Businesses and also individuals must make permanent long-term amends to protect nature and in return to protect ourselves.
Celebrate because you are alive … Celebrate that you survived another day … Celebrate because you have friends and family … Celebrate because you have some food on your plate … And most importantly celebrate because you have all of these reasons to look forward to the next day…not everyone does.
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