Is your glass half full or half empty?
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes – most of which never happened….”
A strange sub-title for a blog on how we are moving into the post lockdown recovery and rebuilding phase – but bear with me, for it’s perhaps not as unusual as you might initially think.
When the lockdown was first announced in early March it quickly felt like the world that we all knew and understood had been totally upended and all the pieces thrown into the air. Not only this but pretty quickly as the impact upon businesses and the economy began to be discussed and debated a fear started to quickly build that this would be something far worse than a dip, recession or depression. It could be something we didn’t even yet have a word for but there were real, honestly held fears that it might lay waste huge swathes of the economy and the jobs which it supported, and more importantly, the families who depended on them.
But now, some 6 months on, when we look over our shoulders perhaps it doesn’t feel like that. Yes there are reams of economic data which make clear the extent of the economic hit we have incurred in terms of GDP dips; and yes the national debt has increased to unheard of levels but these are only telling part of the story. And perhaps, if we may be bold, there are more important, relevant and uplifting parts of the story to be told?
Dr Pangloss from the French writer Voltaire’s 18th century satirical novel Candide was a deluded soul who saw in life the ‘best of all possible worlds’ irrespective of how things were turning out. We don’t want to be like him. But many of our clients are saying to us that things over the last 6 months have been difficult, bad even – but perhaps not as bad as they had feared in the dark days of March and early April (dark in a metaphorical sense as the weather was unseasonally kind to us).
There is a bit of a French theme here because the sub-title of this blog is a quote attributed to the mid 16th century French man of letters, Michel de Montaigne. And I think it sums up how a lot of us thought about Coronavirus and the lockdown and perhaps how we think about it now. Let’s be clear, there have been and there continue to be individual experiences of pain, suffering and loss – and a significant proportion of it final and irrecoverable. But if the experience of our clients is anything to go by, in a business sense, Montaigne has perhaps hit the nail on the head; what we imagined has been worse than what we experienced and are experiencing.
If that is the case what does that mean for what happens next? Well, if there is one trait that most successful business owners share it is optimism. You might think sometimes it is misplaced and overleaps itself; but thank goodness for that because it is that sense of optimism which drives business owners to focus upon the future; understand what the art of the possible might be and take some (hopefully calculated ) risks in order to achieve that future.
What next essentially boils down to trying to understand 3 things:
- What is the position of the business now?
- Where does it want to be in 3 or 6 months time?
- And, understanding those things, how is it going to get there?
We have been using the now – where – how methodology with a number of our clients for several years and all of them have found it incredibly helpful in enabling them to see through the noise ( I know we hear noise, and don’t see it, but hopefully you get what I mean) and understand what they must focus upon and what their priorities must be in order to achieve that goal.
Once we know where we are and where we are aiming for, the obstacles and challenges often become very clear.
Understanding what we need to do in order to diminish, avoid or remove these obstacles entirely from our path can initially appear an insurmountable challenge in itself; but when we have guided clients through this process using a ‘force field’ analysis the fog has always lifted. We will cover this approach to problem solving in more detail in another blog.
We might wish that our current situation was very different, but as a former colleague of mine used to say “We are where we are…”; and perhaps where we are is a bit better than where we might have hoped we would be just 6 months ago.