When I was in college, my days started before my feet hit the floor… or so my roommate said. I was that morning person who couldn’t wait to get going, even on the weekends. Later, well into my career, I was a good fit for a global company that had employees covering all time zones and a culture that was 24/7: always available, always “on.” When I started a family, this became harder, and I found I struggled to recover at that pace. Now, as an entrepreneur running a global business, who has grown children and young grandchildren, the pace still becomes unsustainable at times. This is especially true now, as each of our days has become a blend of home and work life in this global pandemic. Maybe you feel something similar today or have felt like this through the various stages of your life.
“I never lose. I either win or learn.” Nelson Mandela
We are in one of the biggest learning chapters of our lives.
With COVID-19 changing our daily routines, we feel many things are out of our control. It would be easy to fall into despair and feel stuck. But I know when we get through the other side, we will look back on this time and acknowledge how much we were pushed, pulled, and forced to grow. Now is when we can think outside the box and try doing things differently than we have before. There is goodness in this if we take advantage of the opportunity.
It is predicted that half of the S&P 500 will no longer be a part of that list within 10 years.1
Disruption is all around us, and it is continuous. There will always be new markets created, financial market crises, election years, trade wars, virus breakouts, floods and other natural disasters, and more. Last year alone, the amount spent investing in digital technology reached almost $2 trillion. The creation and pace of new business models such as Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and others will continue to disrupt the way we innovate, organize, develop and train, and most importantly, lead.
When we are the business that is getting disrupted, it’s easy to fall ball back on what we know. Neuroscience tells us that when we are in high-stress situations, it’s easy to resort to familiar patterns and experiences that have worked for us before. Unfortunately, our tendency is to back away from learning during stress, but we do our best thinking – and learning – when we are in uncharted territory! When we are not the experts, we become the “interns,” and we begin to ask thoughtful questions, take in new data, and pull diverse thinkers and experience into the discussion.
Every conversation I have had in the month of January, I started it with, “Happy new year, happy new decade! Think back to 2010 – the last turn of the decade. Where were you? What were you doing? It’s likely you can remember the city you lived in, the company you were with, and the role you had. You might remember something particular about a relationship, the age of your children, or perhaps a major milestone. But I want you to think about your mental state: where you were inside your head. Were you thinking of the coming decade and what you wanted to learn or how you wanted to grow? Did you celebrate any of that good stuff you had along the way: your achievements, milestones, etc.
In a recent conversation with 4 Signature Program alumni, as I walked through this questioning, one commented, “You made me stop and reflect. The last decade was so intense and full, that it flew by. I’m not sure I stopped to think about those achievements, let alone celebrate them. Do you have any counsel for how we do that better for the next decade?”
As we are in the holiday season, I’ve had a little time to pause and reflect, and I want to share this thought with you.
“The sun always rises” is a simple phrase, in which the meaning is intended to provide comfort to those going through a tough time. We all experience times when life doesn’t go the way we hope. Unless we need the sun to shine on our day as a sign that things will be better, it is easy to ignore. How often do we take the time to reflect on the hope that a sunrise brings?
Every day, our schedules are jam-packed with meetings, phone calls, child drop-offs, grocery runs, and a host of activities that make life busy. We don’t have time to take in a moment like a sunrise because it feels like we are at full capacity all the time. Remember, our capacity is full not only from doing things, but also from thinking about things. Our energy is constantly zapped because of our mental load; we just don’t turn it off.