By Elizabeth Senger, Business Unit Director at Atmosphere
If there’s one thing the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us – and there’ve been plenty of lessons – it’s that nothing can stop change. Across the spectrum, from global economies all the way down to individual people, we cannot resist change. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said that change is the only constant in life – given recent events, I doubt anyone would argue the point. But as our entire world faces the unprecedented changes of the last couple of months, it’s what we do next that matters most.
The uncertainty of this crisis and the inability to plan from one week to the next has been tough, but for many, the fallout has been crippling. For those of us who are still fortunate enough to have jobs and be able to provide for our families, we’re in the process of adapting to the day-to-day changes to how we work. This includes helping find solutions for our clients as they grapple with business continuity risks and adapt business models to ensure their sustainability. From a communications perspective, we have a unique opportunity to shape the next chapter in the best way possible.
To do this, we first need the right mindset around change and we asked Cape Town clinical psychologist, Irene Streeten for some insights into this process.
“Change requires an awareness of what our own personality resources and our strengths are. It’s helpful to remind ourselves of the most difficult things we’ve done, and how we coped. How did we manage those situations?” Streeten explains that ultimately, it’s important to remember that nothing is ever wasted. There’s always the possibility of some kind of emotional recycling to make painful things, useful.
With an open mind and a willingness to reframe old patterns of doing things and ways of thinking, we can find the positive opportunities enabled by change.
Here are three:
- The chance to re-evaluate and rectify
Whether we realise it or not, change is a part of everyday life. However sweeping change, like that which COVID-19 has brought upon us, doesn’t happen as often. Companies around the world are experiencing huge losses from the resulting financial crisis, healthcare systems are under pressure, and human life as we knew it has, for now at least, been turned on its head.
What this offers us is the chance to question how we did things before. Question the intent. Were the old habits and ideas aligned with a higher purpose such as our values or our company values? Did they make sense? If not, we can use the opportunity to re-evaluate and rectify because the brands of the future are those that are authentic and truly walk the talk.
- Build trust
Streeten is seeing first-hand how the global pandemic and the national lockdown is affecting people, from anxiety around the unpredictability of the current crisis to depression from lockdown loneliness. A by-product of these circumstances is vulnerability. A common theme for many. And just like vulnerability is a critical connection point in building true friendship, it’s also something we can all relate to during times of crisis and unprecedented change. It builds community and if we can identify it in ourselves, and be there for others who are feeling it too – whether it’s clients, our colleagues, or our nearest and dearest – relationships and trust will be all the stronger.
With a global trust deficit on the increase – that is seeing declining levels of trust in governments, the media, CEOs and business – trust is fast-becoming a key differentiator for consumers.
- Resilience is contagious
Some of us perform better under pressure but we rarely get to choose whether we work in a pressurised environment or not. Change can mean that in the short-term, we do feel under pressure because we’re needing to adapt to something unfamiliar and that can be hard work. But in the process, we also get the chance to stretch ourselves and those around us – we can push ourselves to see what we’re capable of. We get to show up when and where it matters most and this type of resilience and can-do approach to life is certainly catchy.
Streeten says, “Positivity and a can-do attitude in our leaders gives us the opportunity to contemplate if we also have the resources and the robustness to take on difficult things in a difficult time. It sets the tone and ignites a positive fashion – just like we’re seeing in many people, who are volunteering services and finding courage and strength to give help where it’s needed the most.”
Building personal resolve can be incredibly empowering and it’s what people look for in their leaders. Some of the most inspiring individuals throughout history have overcome extreme challenges and instead of allowing the hardship to consume them, they’ve become stronger. Mindset and the strength of the human spirit would have played a key role in the stories behind many of these people.
So how will you choose to react to the current changes we’re experiencing? Let’s ensure that ours is one of the positive stories waiting to be written.
Atmosphere Communications is a leading PR agency specialising in communications. We are your partner during this time. Contact us to find out how we can assist you in adjusting to this unprecedented time of change.