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How many times over the last couple of weeks have you heard someone refer to the unprecedented times we are finding ourselves in?  A Black Swan event. Unusual. Unreal even, and for sure it is. As were many other events in our collective history…

The start of the Great Trek in South Africa (1836) was the start of unprecedented times for Boers in Africa. The Spanish Flu lasted from 1918 – 1920 and introduced completely unprecedented times. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, it was the start of the second world war. Unprecedented. But does this mean that the unprecedented time you enter after being incapacitated in an accident, a sport injury or losing a loved-one is any less traumatic? Of course not. Unusual times, unprecedented circumstances can be uniquely personal or massively shared – and introduces the concept of relativity. We all experience our trauma based on our current reality. We have a perspective on the extent of it. And because our realities are all different – our experiences are not the same – even our experience of a shared event, as Covid-19 has shown us.

 

This made me think: How do we formulate this unique perspective?  What do we use to measure whether something is in fact unprecedented or traumatic to us – or not?  When everything is said and done – how badly will something affect me?  Is there a criteria or compass we can use to guide this?

 

To answer for myself, I wanted to go back to my core.

First, I went looking for a good way to define “core” – I loved the Merriam-Webster one:  “The essential, enduring part of something – central to its being”.  So what is my core?

For me – this would include 3 things. With these three core elements, I then challenged myself to see if the current reality impacted me in such a way that it would be classified as trauma, or unprecedented times, or something else entirely.

  • Is my Christian belief in any way challenged or compromised?
  • Are my husband & kids, extended family & friends, healthy and safe?
  • Am I able to deliver meaningful work for a basic, sustainable income?

What I found in this quick exercise, is that when you focus on this core – irrespective of your current context, and then decide to passionately protect it – you get this wonderful thing called perspective.

 

Having perspective doesn’t mean the situation becomes less critical. Unfortunately – it doesn’t. But it does give you some basic tools to cope better through the state and it builds your resilience characteristics for any future crisis state. These includes:

  • An acceptance of the new normal, allowing you to move from denial to action.
  • Finding meaning or even gratitude in what has not changed and what really matters.
  • Your ability to improvise improves, which allows you to be more entrepreneurial and display a higher level of ingenuity.

So, what about your company’s core? Are you clear about what you will use to give you perspective? The 3 or 4 things you will use to measure the possible impact of an unprecedented event. What are those essential elements? For your company, it could include:

  • Your core values
  • The relevancy of your core competency/core offering
  • Retention of your key talent base

Being clear about this core will help you manage – even survive – through today, the NOW of the unprecedented time. A core will also prepare you to recover and ultimately thrive in the time to follow. Because there will be normal again. A new normal.

May you find your personal and professional perspective through this simple act of looking inward to check your core is intact and then looking outwards with this new perspective and a new sense of appreciation for your reality. And I hope it may help you write your own new normal.

 

 

References: Wikipedia // Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online // Harvard Business Review

Author Elmien Brauns

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