How To Come Out Stronger And Ready To Thrive After A Major Disruption

Mukesh Gupta

We are seeing a lot of signals of tectonic shifts in the economy and the ripples that they will cause.

We have a record number of publicly listed companies in the United States deciding to not give out dividends so that they can conserve cash.

We’ve seen announcements from large firms that the majority of their workforce will work from home permanently.

We have seen businesses starting to cut salaries (and, in some cases, pay no salary at all).

We have seen massive numbers of people losing their jobs in the United States and expect a lot more to lose their jobs before we are done with the pandemic.

We are seeing large businesses cut their marketing spends significantly.

We have also seen new business models explored in desperation and finding great success.

Given this scenario, every one of us – whether we are entrepreneurs, senior managers in corporations, front-line staff at retail outlets, or individuals – need to take a pause and think about how we can deal with this scenario and come out stronger.

Here are three things that I am doing to come out stronger:

  1. Survive
  2. Revive
  3. Thrive

Let’s look at each one in detail.

Ensure survival

The first things first. We need to survive before we can thrive. So, we must do everything that we can to survive the crisis, in three very important ways.

1. Physical

I know from experience that you can become too busy when you’re working from home and before you know it, your calendar is booked with calls and meetings.

Being at home with easy access to snacks and food can be a double whammy: You eat a lot more and exercise a lot less. So it is important to block off time on your calendar for exercise and stick to these appointments, just like you would honor any other blocks on your calendar.

Also, it is important to have a clear demarcation of the start of work and the end of work. For example, I get ready and put on my work clothes to indicate the start of work. Then I shut down my laptop, clean my desk, and change into comfy pajamas to indicate the end of work.

2. Emotional

For most of us, this is the first time we have lived with our loved ones in such close proximity for such a prolonged period of time. For some, this could be the loneliest time of their lives, if they live alone in a strange city. For some, with little children or aging parents, things can be really busy and stressful.

It is important to realize that these are extraordinary times and this is stressful for everyone. It is important to talk to each other about your schedules and set the right expectations.

It is a good idea to have a schedule for everything – on a family calendar that’s clearly visible in a central area (maybe on the refrigerator) so that everyone knows everyone’s schedule and can plan accordingly.

If you think you need some emotional support, reach out to your partner, a friend, or even seek professional help. These days, a lot of mental health professionals are doing online counseling. It is important to take care of your emotional well-being.

3. Financial

There is a lot of talk about how the pandemic and associated lockdown will be followed by a financial crisis that could last for a long time. No one knows how quickly businesses can recover from this.

What we all know for certain is that most businesses will be struggling with cash-flow issues and looking for ways to survive. To do so, some might cut expenses, some might let people go, some might cut salaries. In any case, you need to be prudent and look for ways to survive this crisis. Most investments will give negative returns, so it is important that individuals also make prudent financial decisions.

It’s important to cut unnecessary expenses and postpone any expenses that you can. Whatever you do, ensure that you have enough financial resources to tide you through the crisis, which could last a year, if not longer.

Plan your revival

Once you have taken care of your survival, it is time to pause and think about your life. Times like these allow the opportunity to look at where you are in your life and decide if continuing on the path that brought you here is the right path going forward, or whether you need to make course corrections.

I know that there needs to be a course correction in my life, for sure. In most cases, we don’t live our lives deliberately. We just flow with the current and reach wherever it takes us.

Times like these give us the opportunity to become deliberate about how we want to lead our lives. This might mean different things to different people.

Some of you might already be living a deliberate life – kudos to you, and continue along. Some of us (including me) need to start living deliberately and create the future we want. It is time to make the choices (some of them could be tough ones) that you need to make to change the course of your life.

This is when you decide what your future course of action needs to be and act upon those decisions. If the decisions require you to change your course of action, understand that this change might not be easy.

There are many things that you need to consider, including your financial health, before you make any significant changes. Here are six aspects of life that you need to consider and make decisions about:

  • Physical health: First and foremost, you need to take care of your physical health. Eat healthy, exercise, drink healthy, and stay healthy. Physical health is the foundation on which we build our lives.
  • Emotional health: Humans are emotional creatures. So, you need to take care of your emotional well being. Have a healthy relationship with your emotions and feelings. Build your capacity for empathy, and be able to recognize and deal with other people’s emotions and feelings.
  • Intellectual health: As a species, we are a curious lot. This is how we have come to dominate this earth and continue to learn and adapt to everything that life throws at us. Continue to be curious and learn new things to keep your intellectual growth healthy.
  • Fiscal health: Look at your fiscal habits and decide which ones need to change. Crises like this also come with great opportunities to invest. So, if you have excess cash, look at good potential investment opportunities, and invest wisely.
  • Creative health: As a species, we are also hard-wired to create. It could be as simple as cooking a new dish or taking on a challenge from a social media platform or as complicated as writing a book or making a movie. Each of us needs to create to feel good about ourselves. You know your interests; find ways to continually create.
  • Social health: Humans are social animals. The fact that social (or physical) distancing has brought people together in new ways tells us a lot about our species. Take an inventory of your social circles and the people in them. Decide if this is what you want; if you need to move some people out of your social circles or include others that you think will bring a lot of joy and happiness to your life.

Thrive

Changing behavior is not easy. Anyone who has ever tried to create or stop a habit can vouch for that. So, before you can thrive, you need to build the capacity for change. There are quite a few models that can help build the capacity for change. My book Thrive: Mindsets & Skillsets needed to succeed in a world dominated by smart machines & intelligent algorithms talks about the different mindsets and skills you can use to build the capacity to thrive.

However, the simplest model that I have found is the Fogg Behavior Model created by Stanford professor BJ Fogg. The model can be explained with a simple equation:

B {Behavior} = [M {Motivation} * A {Ability} * P {Prompts}] ^ C {Celebrate}
(emphasis is mine)

This equation simply means that when you are trying to change a habit or build a new habit, you need to make it absolutely easy to do (i.e., break it down to its barest minimum) so that you don’t need high levels of motivation and install prompts that remind you to do the action.

Let’s say you want to create a habit of exercising every day. The model says that, instead of setting a goal to exercise for 30 minutes every day, just set a goal of putting on your exercise clothes every day, right after you brush your teeth. That’s it. Then, every time you do this simple action, you celebrate in your own way.

What you will realize is that once you have your exercise clothes on and celebrate the action, you might decide to exercise anyway. This is a cause for a bonus celebration. These celebrations release hormones that make us happy and reinforce our motivation to do the action.

Start with the most important area of your life, the thing that requires the most change, and then move through the different areas. Start small, stay simple, and build your muscle and capacity for personal change.

In conclusion

Once you do this, you not only have ensured your survival but, at the same time, built the capacity to evolve in a way that will allow you to thrive in any environment and on your terms.

When the crisis is gone (as this too shall pass), you will find that you have come out of the crisis stronger and with the right foundation that will allow you to thrive in the improved micro and macro environment that always follows a crisis.

Join us in our exclusive Webinar session on May 19 to get an overview of the SAP Readiness Check tool, which gives a first analysis of your existing SAP ERP application, highlighting key project activities.

This post was originally posted on Makesh Gupta’s blog “Leading Transformation” and has been republished with permission.


About Mukesh Gupta

Mukesh has more than 2 decades of experience in starting and growing organisations. He has written three books including “Thrive” & “Your Startup Mentor” and has an upcoming book on B2B Selling. In his role as Director - Customer Advocacy, he works closely with the SAP User groups in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand and actively represents them within SAP and brings the united face of SAP to the user groups. He has an active blog called “Musings of a Salesman” and hosts the popular podcast “Pushing Beyond the Obvious”.