With everything that is going on in the world, it is easy to "sink" and succumb to a sense of despair, anxiety, melancholy, and even resentment. While difficult times can undoubtedly bring out the worst sides of us, they can also bring out some of our best qualities that often get lost when it is "business as usual"--when we are on autopilot, and fall into routines, safety cushions, and comfort zones.
Humans are innately adaptable, creative, and entrepreneurial, especially when we feel we have nothing to lose. On top of that, we can be very generous, empathetic, and cooperative when the world needs our collective efforts most. Said qualities top the list of soft skills taught in school and emphasized by the HR department at work; they are seemingly second-nature and mindless, yet extremely difficult to put to practice.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, many people started their own micro-businesses or side hustles for the very first time to occupy their time, earn extra money, support local suppliers, and make their old/new hobbies more productive. Others took the time to reflect, learn something new, or develop new ideas. Whether it was because they had to, because they wanted to, or because an opportunity arose, these people took charge of their own circumstances. During the height of the pandemic and the ongoing global anti-racism movement, people have come together to start fundraising, create a movement, raise awareness, share, help, and support each other. Distance, language, funding, experience, and a business or leadership background, among many other things, were no longer barriers (read: excuses) for taking action. Because these examples prove how capable we are, even when the odds are against us, the question here is neither "what does a crisis teach us?" nor "why do certain social movements or phenomena bring us together?"
Instead, the questions become:
- Without a cause or a crisis, can we still maintain our adaptability, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, generosity, empathy, and cooperation? (Among many other qualities that outshone our fear and anger during these difficult times)
- Now that we realized some of our barriers were actually self-imposed and totally manageable, are we going to do things differently?
- Without a cause to bring people together or a crisis to urge immediate action, can businesses and schools engage and empower their teams and students to take the initiative and actively participate?
Why wait for a crisis? Why wait for a cause?
Pictured here is my recent program, co-designed with the CEO and top executives of Inoue Rubber (Thailand) PCL., to engage and empower cross-functional teams within the company to unleash their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit and collaborate on new business projects to adapt to new business opportunities. This is an example of a company-wide effort to promote adaptability, creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.