“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
“What have you learned so far?” I asked the leader who called me seeking advice.
“We just weren’t ready, professionally or personally,” he responded.
Some might say it’s too early to consider what life will be like on the other side of the uncharted territory which now grips the world due to COVID-19. However, our ability to learn from the experience will not only provide our generation with a much-needed source of future wisdom, but it also provides a reason to take much hope and heart.
This crisis that we face today is creating an incredible impact across the globe. This impact, however, is not one that is equally felt. And it is due to this that I believe we can use the lessons we learn from the crisis to change our lives and the lives of others for the better. However, to learn the lessons we must first recognise that the levels of financial stimulus required to be put in place by governments around the world provides the single biggest spotlight on the most pressing issue facing the society today. That is, the lack of resilience in our social structures, where businesses and families have no reserves to fall back on, reveals the extreme cracks that have been plastered over with overconfidence and a ‘devil may care’ arrogance that disaster might actually strike. Even though, post the 2008 financial crisis the banks across the globe were forced to hold greater capital reserves to maintain their solvency, this same useful principle was not adopted across the rest of society.
So where does this leave us?
I believe it leaves us with two pressing concerns. The first is one purely of faith and hope, and the second is one of a commitment to learn.
To assume that we can hold any sentiment of belief beyond faith and hope in the current circumstance I’m sure for many feels like dream. That is, across all countries whether we like it or not we are required to put our faith in those who are shouldering the massive burden of decisions. In no small way, these decisions carry the responsibility for people’s lives and for the welfare of entire nations. And in having faith in their decision-making capability, we hope that their decisions protect as many people as possible whilst rapidly restoring stability back to an already strained system.
Although maintaining faith and hope in the current circumstances feels passive, the second concern of a commitment to learn returns to us a place of power and control. It’s easy in the current scenario with mass uncertainty and anxiety to focus only on the here and now, rather than stepping back to learn from our experience. This approach is completely natural as we want to resolve our current dilemma and protect ourselves rather than investing energy in considering the life we want beyond the crisis. Learning from our experiences, however, is the ultimate source of wisdom, and as much as I hate to suggest it, I believe such wisdom is likely to be required again in our lifetimes. Experience informs knowledge, that in turn will determine how we will lead and live once the dust has settled post COVID-19.
How will I lead and live?
Anyone who has seen my work will know that I believe that what sits at the core of the human condition is a set of existential dilemmas – our human dilemmas – which influence every aspect of our behaviour. And in times of extreme uncertainty, they cause our sense of vulnerability to be amplified, resulting in us adopting a fight, flight, freeze or fawn response to the threat. Although this response will help to keep us safe, it also blinds us to the potential lessons we can learn and alternate paths we can take. And so, if you are reading this post, and hopefully your sense of vulnerability and threat has diminished, I encourage to ask yourself a few questions:
In the midst of the crisis brought on by COVID-19…
- where have you felt most vulnerable?
- where have you felt most prepared?
- where have you seen others struggle?
- in hindsight what would you have done to be better prepared?
- in hindsight what would you have done to better support others?
Thinking now to a hopefully not too distant future when the crisis has diminished…
- how do you want your life to be?
- what will have changed?
- what will have stayed the same?
And to encourage action, consider what changes you can focus on now to build the foundations for your life post COVID-19?
For now we all must learn to adopt and adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of life which includes never before seen social distancing measures, remote working in isolation, video calls in place of physical meetings and gatherings, and perhaps most daunting of all – the prospect for many parents of home schooling children whilst still trying to juggle the pressures of our every day jobs. Whilst we all personally navigate and support our family, friends and colleagues through this crisis, be sure to pause and take a little time to learn something new about yourself, so you may the lay the foundations for the life you want post COVID-19 using considered wisdom.
About Rob Cross
Rob is the founder and CEO of Muru – a next generation leadership coaching and development consultancy that aims to debunk redundant models of what it means to be a leader, and help individuals, teams and groups unlock their true potential.
20% psychologist, 10% agony aunt, 30% motivational speaker, 40% bullshit detector and 100% Dad and Husband,Rob’s no-nonsense approach to life and business makes him a refreshingly human leadership expert and mentor in today’s ever evolving and changing business landscape.
Bringing together his 20 years of hands on leadership, and practical experience of developing others, Rob researched, designed and launched Muru Leadership and ‘The 3 Questions’ ™. In today’s age of acceleration, where the classic definitions of being a leader are no longer working, ‘The 3 Questions’ ™ methodology helps individuals and teams build greater courage and conviction in their own leadership, empowering them to lead and achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment both at work, and in life.
First Social Links
Muru Blog Archive
Muru Blog Archive
- Designing life for beyond COVID-19 April 9, 2020
- Leading Virtual Teams March 7, 2020
- Don’t be a Pate Goose – tips to cut the noise September 23, 2019
- My wellbeing – being fit to lead September 7, 2019
- Time to Recharge and Refocus August 1, 2019
- Sustaining Confidence June 21, 2019
- Team or Group? – learn to unlock collective potential June 4, 2019
- Imposter syndrome – don’t fight it April 24, 2019
- Power of human connection April 1, 2019
- The Dash – contribution through choice March 31, 2019