Seizing opportunity in these times…..

We all have been challenged in unique ways over the months since COVID-19 made its appearance in the US. Some are handling it well, others not as well.

I am one of the lucky ones. I like solitude. I am an introvert who relishes time by myself. While it has been challenging to my business and my staff, we made the transition to remote work early, we had planned for it in February, and while revenue fell off the cliff, we have been slowly building a stronger product set that will work in these times and beyond.

I am an older entrepreneur and with that comes a bit of wisdom. When I see parents struggling with managing both work and daycare, I want to remind them that they are getting precious time with their children they would not have had and will never have again. When I hear of people who don’t know what to do with themselves, I want to tell them it’s a great time to learn something new, or master something they already know and love. For grandparents who lament not seeing their grandchildren, I want to recommend they spend time recording themselves reading a favorite book that will be cherished long into the future.

In June, I trekked up to a little cabin I own in remote Tennessee. It was to be a quick trip to check on the state of things here and prepare it for summer visitors. When I arrived, I found it in great shape since my niece had come three weeks prior and invited the spiders to leave. Since the cabin didn’t need extensive housekeeping, I spent my time hiking to my favorite spots and seeking out internet so I could continue working.

Five days later, when it was time for me to head home, I didn’t. I have always wanted to spend the summer here. Once I started my company that dream became very distant. But with COVID-19, with the office set up for remote work, with my phone actually able to receive calls at the cabin, with wonderful folks in town who let me use their internet, and with multiple product lines that needed to be converted to a virtual classroom format, it was the perfect time to seize an opportunity.

It’s not been without some headaches, but overall, it has been a great experience. I’ve been able to work at a high rate of productivity. The infection rates are much less here in TN than where I live in FL. I have gotten to know my neighbors, the hummingbirds that visit my feeder, what wildflowers are out in June versus September, and the pure joy of solitude in a remote area.

This summer we pivoted the company hard. Our products are updated and able to be given in a new format. My staff has taken the opportunity provided by the local university to take new professional development training.

According to Harvard Business Review1, in an article published online last month, the authors indicated that this current crisis has caused leaders to jettison an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in favor of developing growth mindsets within themselves and their organizations. It has provided the catalyst to emerge stronger on the other side of COVID-19. 

In a second article by HBR2, “crises present us with unique conditions that allow innovators to think and move more freely to create rapid, impactful change”. This has led me to consider agility and resilience as “Essential Skills” during crisis and crisis recovery.

The changes my company has made will make us stronger as we rebuild our business. I believe the opportunity I seized of experiencing a Tennessee summer will make me more resilient and give me the ability to think above the fray as we face what’s next.

I hope you have recognized an opportunity in your life. If you are still hating the disruption COVID-19 has brought, maybe it’s time to change your perspective.

1Ashford, S., Sytch, M. and Greer, L. 2020. 6 Ways a Crisis Can Help You Cultivate a Growth Mindset. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2020/08/6-ways-a-crisis-can-help-you-cultivate-a-growth-mindset

2Clark, L. 2020. Innovation in a Time of Crisis. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://www.harvardbusiness.org/innovation-in-a-time-of-crisis/

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