A few weeks ago I caught a video by one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers, Simon Sinek. He was leading a group Zoom meeting with his team, discussing the business impact of the coronavirus. For several minutes, Sinek focused on how the pandemic was changing the way a lot of companies, including theirs, conducted business.
One particular statement caught me by surprise: “These are not unprecedented times.”
He wasn’t downplaying the seriousness of the health crisis or the resulting business crisis. Rather, he was trying to put the situation at hand into context. “More sudden? Absolutely. More shocking? Absolutely. Without a doubt. But this is not unprecedented in the business world,” he continued. In fact, he said, extraordinary circumstances have put companies in extraordinarily difficult positions time and time again. Despite that—or really, because of it—some companies have come out stronger.
How? They reinvented themselves. And that was exactly what Sinek expected his team, and therefore his company, to do. Sinek challenged his team to shift their mindset and ask,“How will we do what we’re doing in a different world?” instead of “How are we going to get through this?”
This made me think a lot about how crucial it is for us as business professionals to stop merely surviving and chart a course to start thriving. In survival mode, we remain focused on doing things as we have always done them, or sit and wait for the opportunity to continue doing things as they have always been done. This is where Sinek’s question “How are we going to get through this?” applies. By contrast, in thriving mode, we are without a doubt rethinking and reinventing ourselves. We adapt to the situation at hand.
The late great Yogi Berra drew a lot of laughs when he came out with statements like, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The truly funny thing is, however, that no one would ever stop at a fork and ponder all day the challenge thrown in the way. Similarly, why should we in our daily business lives stop at the challenge the coronavirus has thrown in our way?
Once that mindset began sinking in, I found myself energized by the possibilities of exploring new territory. I’m still figuring out the paths that have the most promise… but they are paths regardless.