Many complain about how the pandemic ruined their lives.
We all agree that the loss of life is horrendous. We feel for those who have suffered physically and economically. We relate to the entire world, quickly tiring of our limited social connections.
Without minimizing the losses, we need to ask, “How have we benefitted during this pandemic?” What have we learned during this time of social distancing? What new opportunities have we found?
Murfield Coaching works with leaders and entrepreneurs in Real Estate, sales, and business leaders by thinking bigger and reaching higher to do what others considered “impossible.” One of the ways we help achieve those audacious results is by identifying, examining, and seizing opportunities that others don’t see.
CAUTION: By writing this post, I’m not glossing over the horrible results of this pandemic. At this writing, 535,000+ U.S. citizens and 2.6+ million in the world have lost their lives. Meanwhile 117 million have suffered from the virus. Social distancing has separated loved ones and caused tremendous emotional trauma. Those results are atrocious. We all know that losing loved ones is traumatic. I know because I’ve lost a son, my father-in-law, and my parents over the last 15 years. The only hope is to look forward. It’s not disrespectful but healthy. We can honor and respect them by looking for the opportunities and moving into our next normal. We can’t go back. The only thing we can do is to move forward, sensing and seizing our best opportunities.
The Silver Lining
There is always a silver lining to any traumatic experience. Whether we want to admit it or not, going through tough times makes us better people. No, we don’t want to experience trauma.
- We don’t like the pandemic and the restrictions on our lives.
- No one likes the threat of a disease or losing a loved one.
- We didn’t like the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
- The world changed during the terrorist attacks of 2001, Oklahoma bombing, or mass shooting’s.
- The same is true for the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, and all other .
We all hate trauma.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it or find opportunities it in.
Let’s take a moment to look back over the last year and appreciate the opportunities that this pandemic has brought to us.
#1. The Pandemic Ushered in the Virtual Workplace
The virtual workplace existed before but it crossed the tipping point on March 11, 2020. That’s when the U.S. shut down. Ironically, companies that had just a month before insisted upon working in person, suddenly, embraced the virtual workplace. To their surprise, it worked! Practically overnight, all but the most essential businesses learned to work without coming to the office. Most quickly set up home offices and found a way to keep the business running.
Schools transitioned as well as churches and community organizations. No it wasn’t perfect. Yes, there were problems. Yes, many of those problems have not been resolved a year later. But it has worked better than many ever thought it would.
Looking forward, Forbes projects a hybrid future for work. Even if some return to the old, in-person model, many will embrace another option. Employees, for reasons listed below, want, and in some cases, will demand at least a part of their work week will be spent away from the office. We have crossed that tipping point. Employees will ask a question that had been silenced before.
Businesses will also benefit by reducing their footprint and expanding their recruiting to other geographic locations. The virtual world will bring far more opportunities. We must assess the opportunities.
Note: My role in this post isn’t to say you should pursue these opportunities. Instead, it is to say there are opportunities that you may not have seen or considered.
#2. Rethink Old Patterns
Plato’s Republic states, “our need will be the real creator.” From this saying, we understand that necessity is the mother of innovation. Many times we will continue to use what we have until we no longer have that resource. But once that is no longer available, we will find a new way.
As the office moved to virtual, how many people suddenly realized they didn’t need a paper copy, or someone physically sitting at that desk? How many organizations saw new ways to accomplish their goals?
I remember losing my youngest son. My world changed because I saw how short life really is. No longer could I assume much of anything. I grew impatient, driven to “do it now” instead of “wait for a better time.” The pandemic has taught us that the old way of living isn’t guaranteed in this new world. The 9-11 attacked forced those of us in the United States to deal with terrorism as the rest of the world did. In the same way, we must now see the world of infectious disease as a viable threat to our modern world. We cannot think the same after a trauma.
Avoid these 10 phrases after a trauma.
#3. Creates New Services
What services were offered prior to the pandemic? How did those services expand? Fine dining restaurants began offering curbside pickup or delivery. Auto companies began making respirators. Distilleries began making hand sanitizer. Clothing companies and many individuals began making masks.
Prior to the pandemic, these same companies would’ve simply asked, “Why?” if presented with this opportunity. But when resources are scarce and they have the ability, they said, “Why not?”
I’ll also include personal creativity. Comedian Jim Gafigan turned to gardening
#4. Saved Time and Money
Employees and management quickly noted that working from home quickly saved time and money. I know several who are saving 2-3 hours a day in commute time. That quickly adds up in gas, car maintenance, parking, and tolls. As one former commuter noted, “I have more money at the end of the month. That better than having more month left at the end of the money.
As mentioned above, businesses can also save money by rethinking their footprint for office and parking. Companies, like Amazon, have saved billions with reduced employee travel.
Naturally, not every business will save time and money but the opportunity exists.
Stop and Notice to identify opportunities.
#5. Work life Balance
This last opportunity is a bit confused. For many, working from home has created longer hours. Managers make more demands upon the employee by expanding the time they are available. That is definitely not an opportunity for the employee. However, others have appreciated the time saved by the commute. They have more time with their families. Even if it is interrupted with a phone call, it is more beneficial than if they were in the office.
The opportunity to build healthier relationships at home is one of the very real opportunities for anyone no longer commuting.
Opportunities are fleeting. They often appear and can disappear quickly.
Opportunities are not guaranteed. Just because you want them, or missed them, doesn’t mean you get a second chance.
Opportunities are not always as good as they seem. Other times they are better than they initially appear. In the end, those that want to improve their life will pursue the best opportunities for them.
Are These Opportunities for You?
Trauma tends to taint us against life by demanding that we focus on the negative. No wonder opportunities are often overlooked or too quickly dismissed when we are hurting.
Shift your thinking. Yes, life in a pandemic isn’t what we want it to be. At times it really sucks. However, with the vaccinations becoming increasingly available, life is about to get better. Look for the opportunities. I’ve listed 5 but there are many more. Find the ways you can benefit from this time. Even with the horrible loss of life, your experience may help someone else. Seizing that opportunity may help them see their opportunities.
Sensing opportunities in traumatic times requires compassion.
Sense and seize the opportunities. By thinking bigger you can reach higher to find those hidden opportunities. That is when you do what other’s can’t, won’t or don’t.
DO THE IMPOSSIBLE
Loren Murfield, PhD
I work with leaders and entrepreneurs in small business, sales and Real Estate to think bigger and reach higher to find their breakthrough success. Contact me to begin thinking bigger.
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