Way back in about 500 BCE, a wise man uttered a phrase that holds as true today as it did back then: “Change is the only constant in life,” said Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher.
Let’s step back a moment. It may seem that 2020 is a lot like living in purgatory. Events have been canceled. Growth plans you or your business envisioned for this year have been put on hold. We’ve spent months hunkered down in our homes. We venture out on occasion but it all feels tentative. We’re moving through a perpetual state of waiting. Waiting for a cure. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting for a time when it’s safe to go back to the way things were. Waiting to see what constitutes our new normal. Waiting to make plans. Waiting to make a difference. Waiting to move forward.
Yet, while we uneasily hold tight to wait-and-see, the world around us embodies Heraclitus’s wisdom. Seasons have changed – spring to summer and now summer to autumn. The trees around us have bloomed, flourished, and have recently begun to burst into brilliant hues of red and gold. There is a notable shift as the days get shorter and the temperatures get cooler. The only constant is change. There’s a lesson in that for you, too. Now is not the season to wait. Now is the season to prepare and grow – professionally and personally.
Survive vs Thrive
If you’re waiting for life to return to normal, doing what you can to get through this year with your business intact, you’re in survival mode. It’s understandable, many of us have hunkered down with the hopes of just getting through this all in one piece. We bide our time until we can return to “normal” and we make choices that allow us to tread water while we wait. You can do that, or you can shift to a growth mindset that looks for opportunities and embraces challenges as a means to take a step forward.
You Can’t Afford to Wait
At this point, waiting for a return to normal is a lot like standing at a dried up riverbed with your kayak waiting for the water to flow again so you can get paddling. You can keep standing there and wait for the heavy rains or next spring’s thaw, or you can lace up your hiking boats and forge a new way forward. No one can say when things will revert back to their pre-COVID ways, and frankly, some things may never go back to the way they were before. (And if we’re being honest, it's good a thing some things may not return!)
Fear of Loss Not of Change
If we’re being honest, we don’t fear change. We fear losing something we value in the process of evolving. We might fear a loss of stability. Perhaps we fear we’ll lose a sense of our own expertise and our authority. We might fear losing some of our customer base or seeing turnover in our staff. These feelings can be heightened when the world around us is also unsettled. While it’s not only normal, but reasonable to be aware that these things might occur, it’s also important to focus on what can be gained – broader markets, growth in your own skill-sets, new opportunities for partnership, and more. This isn’t about ignoring the potential for loss. It’s about not overlooking the potential for gain.
Reinvent the Wheel
COVID-19 has removed the “we’ve always done it this way” hurdle that many organizations face when they prepare to introduce change. We’ve had to learn new ways to do the things we’ve always done. We’ve had to invest in nurturing relationships with team members and clients that we can’t meet in person. We’ve had to re-think the things we invest our time and money in as we restructure budgets and re-allocate resources.
The plans we make for our future can’t depend on the old systems to return. The plans we make for the future should consider the strengths in what we’ve developed during this season, the things we did well in the past that we’d like to adapt or re-introduce down the line, and the potential opportunities for the future. Now is the time to reinvent and evolve, to capitalize on the things that lead to growth, and ditch the things that don’t.