As I sit back and reflect over the past four months, I am amazed at how the world has slowed down – or even stopped. No doubt our lives have been forever changed by this pandemic. Yet I also believe these times offer key opportunities for individuals and organizations to regroup, reflect and come out stronger.
The old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” has never been more poignant. From my own personal perspective, this lockdown has challenged me to think creatively about setting up my own metaphorical lemonade stand. Here is what I have done, and you can too…
- Improve health and wellness
Cooking for ourselves as has allowed my family and me to control the ingredients and portions we bring into our home, leading to healthier, more nutritious eating. Being sequestered has fostered a nearly insatiable desire to get outside to walk or take a run. Both of these activities have enabled me to shed ten pounds and get in great shape over these past 100 days.
- Achieve greater work/life balance
With forced quarantine due to working from home and less travel, I have had more time to reconnect with family and spend time cooking, exercising, watching movies – and simply playing games together. The pandemic has forced me to get back to basics, which has helped me appreciate the simpler and most important things in life, which is our family.
- Modulate mental health
With added time in my routine, I have made daily meditation and reflection a committed priority. This has been the most powerful outcome of this period for me. The ability to reflect on the past, present and future has enabled me to put things in perspective, be grateful for what I have, and plan for my personal and professional future.
- Foster financial discipline
Lockdowns have a sneaky way of revealing unhelpful or unnecessary expenses – like dining out too much or making non-essential purchases. Needless to say, we have saved considerable dollars during this time! Adjusting (i.e. tweaking or cutting) the budget is a prudent and necessary activity for each of us. Considering the financial stress that many households and organizations have experienced during the pandemic, living within our means – and disciplining ourselves to follow a balanced budget – will not only carry us through, but will positively influence the way we manage our funds and finances as we return to a “new normal.”
…these times offer key opportunities for individuals and organizations to regroup, reflect and come out stronger.
What will your lemonade stand look like?
As a leader in your family, company or organization, you have an incredible opportunity to “redeem” this time by thinking creatively about what your future lemonade stand will look like. Are you ready to take your team (i.e. employees, constituents, customers and investors) to the next level? If yes, here are four questions to ask:
- Does our current business model work today, or do we need to change it moving forward?
Some companies I know that follow a transaction-based model are really suffering because the transactions have disappeared, yet they are still obligated to support their customers through the pandemic. Is it time you considered moving to a different business model, i.e. value pricing or subscription-based, to ensure you are getting paid for your services?
- Do you have the right organizational design for the future?
With your workforce furloughed or laid off, you have the opportunity to re-think your entire structure. Are your aces in their places, i.e. do you have the right skillsets lined up for the future? Is all of this office space absolutely necessary? How much staff is needed? Is the span of control appropriate? Now is the time to think about this, even to the degree that you embrace the prospect of pressing the “Reset” button – or even starting your company over.
- Do I have the right technology in place for the future?
Now is the time to assess your technology and clean up your environment. With volumes so low, you have a tremendous opportunity to implement technology changes at minimal risk to the business. This can offer you a huge jumpstart when volumes start flowing again. This also includes looking at competitive technology that could be financially and functionally advantageous to your future business. Perhaps it is time to swap out or upgrade technology (if that was ever on your radar screen).
- Do I have the right skills on my team?
You have an amazing opportunity right now to assess the skills of your team members and retrain them as needed. Take time to care for your employees while they are furloughed to ensure they are ready to return to work with stronger skills (even if they do not end up with you.) One way or another, you will be “giving back” by helping them prepare for the future. This is the perfect time to take stock, invest and care for your teams.
For sure, lemons taste tart – even bitter, just like this darn-awful pandemic. Particularly in times like these, it’s easy to get sucked into the negativity. Don’t. Your people are counting on you for your leadership, direction, decision-making and positivity. I myself will continue to seek out the good things that will emerge from this pandemic. As Mary Poppins said, “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” While Covid-19 has been a bitter pill for many of us to swallow, we can choose to add a little sugar – and start now to make lemonade out of lemons.