A microscopic germ has changed how we do life.
It has shifted how we do business. Our relationships have changed; we all work from home now, our daily schedules, meals, activities, and finances have moved us into a new and un-navigated frontier.
For those who love a schedule, a plan, and a determined path, COVID-19 has essentially loaded those tidy daily routines into a cannon and lit the fuse. Life is not normal and probably not getting back to normal any time soon.
When it goes back to “normal,” even “normal” is going to be a new normal. Business will change. Some will crumble, some already have. Some will rise and thrive; all of them will change.
If you are a business owner and thoughtful leader guiding your company through this upheaval, you probably feel it isn’t much you can do to change the circumstances and seemingly not a whole lot you can control.
Here’s an insight: two things you can control are attitude and effort. Those two characteristics are small and seem insignificant in comparison to the world-wide paralysis and fallout. Attitude and effort are the fulcrums of leading change, reinvention, and innovation that will come from it, seizing opportunities, developing talent, creating growth; you name it!
We’ve been through downturns before. Different circumstances, different fallout, but the recession in 2008-2009 became a change leadership – innovation ecosystem. As a leadership speaker, I’ve worked with many organizations that made the change and leaped into the future. Pinterest, Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, Slack, WhatsApp, and Square were all birthed out of old systems crumbling and new perspectives, new thinking, and new vision rising. But they didn’t just happen—bright minds and deliberate action-filled voids that did not exist before the downturn.
And now, we are in a similar space. Leading through this change and the innovation birthed in crisis produces new products, more efficient processes, and streamlined thinking. Attitude and effort lay the foundation for innovation in a recession.
Attitude goes beyond a cliché poster in the break room. Attitude is the difference between success and failure. Thomas Edison, credited with the invention of the incandescent light bulb, was once asked by a reporter, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison’s attitude and response, says it all, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
A right mindset is imperative going forward, so get your mind right before you start your morning. Your job is to win the day for you and those you’re leading. Sit down in silence without distractions and map your vision for the day and week ahead. As a leader, your responsibility is to harness the fear and motivate your team over the rough and uncertain road ahead. With the wrong attitude, failure is your only option. Perspective is a state of mind and one which is controllable.
Effort is the engine that gets it done. Effort is controllable. How hard you work and the energy exerted in the right area is what propels a company forward. Effort will forever be a cornerstone of success. It can be encouraged and motivated, but raw effort is motivated by passion from within. If the effort required is difficult to muster, then passion may be hidden in fear of the moment.
If energy is hard to exert, it may be an indication that there’s a lack of passion, and a new direction might need to be considered. First, identify the fear. Fear creates chaos in the brain. It causes us to look inward and hinders our ability to see and believe in a more promising future. Revisit the “What?” and “Why?” you’re going after. Is your vision still compelling? Does it inspire confidence going forward? But effort is also controllable.
The marriage of attitude and effort produces the ability to lead others through the necessary change to spark growth and reinvention for a better future. Attitude might bring about a great idea, but without complementing it with effort, it’s not going anywhere. An opportunity arises when effort and attitude join forces during a time of chaos to produce an environment where ideas are welcomed, and innovation is born. Life is disrupted, but innovation shines.
As a leader, we need not cower to a germ. A leader finds inspired and creative ways to rethink, rework, reevaluate, and reinvent how to do business, and takes necessary steps in a new direction. They lead with courage and resolve. They get input on ideas and ask trusted mentors for feedback. Innovation doesn’t act rashly or unwisely, but with wisdom, with speed and agility and with collaboration. Let this be the marker of your business using disruption for leading through change and sparking innovation. There could be an entirely untapped market waiting for you.
During this time, I’m still working, just a bit differently. I’m still meeting with clients and speaking with businesses. I would welcome the opportunity to inspire your team towards innovation through discussions about attitude and effort. Let’s connect.