I write this from my home in Malta where we have been dealing with the COVID-19 impact for a year. A first-year anniversary since the country first went on lockdown still feels very surreal at times.

Just as the lockdown was announced, together with the airport closure, I supported a team in closing their hotel, then the waiting game started, where I was supporting clients as they were told they did not have a job anymore, and another who was closing their company. The news was full of unprecedented stories of crisis across the world. I think I’ve lost count of the times over those initial weeks that I heard the words – “what about me?”, “where does this leave me?”, and “how can I survive this?”

We were in shock – we were in disbelief – we were angry – we were anxious – we wanted to lash out and blame someone for this situation we were in, and for good reason. All this as yet to go away. Leaders around the world were and still are sitting in crisis meetings, crisis discussions, crisis think tanks and crisis planning to determine how to navigate these unchartered waters.

I remember 9/11 and the crisis that hit our industry following that tragic day. If I look back to my thoughts and feelings that evening and on the days that followed, I could never have imagined the opportunities that would arise as a result of that catastrophe.

Now we are faced with a similar situation – we all need to learn new ways to ‘think’.

Now more than ever before, our ability to manage our thinking becomes a critical part of our toolkit. There is nothing you or I can do to control what is happening in this world right now – the only thing we can control is our thoughts, our feelings and our attitude. We can choose whether we react based on doubt, worry and fear and make rash decisions or if we choose to make our decisions based on knowledge, changed perspectives, creativity and gratitude for what we have rather than what we don’t have!

I mentioned the word crisis above – the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brushstroke stands for danger and the other for opportunity. And this is how I urge everyone to think during this time – you need to be aware of the danger but also recognise the potential opportunities and consider your crisis plan to allow for the opportunity to grow even stronger as you emerge from this crisis as it will pass. Those individuals, leaders and companies who react and make decisions based on fear may miss out on the potential to reap the benefits of thinking from a different perspective as to how to use this time to strengthen and grow.

Have you stopped to think about how this crisis is going to impact your business in the long-term? Not just the negative, but how you can innovate and create new revenue opportunities based on new consumer trends which will result from these different times we are experiencing?

I fully appreciate the financial implications the industry is facing, however, perhaps taking a little more time to consider ALL possibilities and taking a longer-term view to the impact of current decisions could present to some a major turning-point for their career or business.

How businesses treat their employees during these difficult times will create long term memories and loyalty, and alternatively, lack of information and communication will result in a team who become paralysed with fear of the unknown. It is important that this is a situation where we are humans dealing with humans – we are all in this together. How can we work together to achieve the best result for both the employer and the employee? Take the time to consider the long-term vision and the impact of these short-term decisions.

So back to ‘What about me?’ Now is the time to change this mindset – yes it may be difficult, but those who focus on ‘we rather than ‘me’ during these times will come out stronger.

Change your questions to:

“What can I do to support the company more during this difficult time?”, “How can I support my employees to a greater level during this crisis?”, “What can I do for those less fortunate than me during this time?”, “How can I support my industry?”, “How can we work together to achieve a win-win situation to get through this as a team?”, “What new possibilities could there be for us to grow and nurture as a result of changed consumer behaviours?”

Change your ‘me’ to ‘we’! This is a time where give and take will take you much further with both employees and customers.

Life as we knew it has changed and there is no going back, so let’s embrace a new way of thinking about the future together. Create a mindset based on growth and abundance rather than fear, doubt and scarcity!

After the rain there is always the rainbow – take the opportunity now to consider the two brush strokes – danger and opportunity. We all have the opportunity to learn and grow from this, and in the future, others will look back and talk about the wonderful successes that came about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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