Having Impact During a Pandemic

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The Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times,” was never more poignant than it is right now.

Every single one of us is undergoing significant change, whether we want to or not. The coronavirus/COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (even the name keeps changing) is making sure of that. It’s the glue that binds us, connects us all.

Recognize that you’re going through a LOT of change right now. It’s not just the change of the pandemic being present and worries about your team, family, and friends. There are changes in both life and business every day related to the pandemic. That’s a great deal of change at once.

Change theorist Kurt Lewin talked about change in terms of unfreeze, change, refreeze. Unfreezing meant recognizing that change is needed and releasing current behaviors and processes, making the changes needed, and refreezing with the new behaviors and practices in place. I think it’s safe to say that’s pretty challenging right now, as we barely start to address the changes needed, and something else changes. Things are just moving too fast.

It might be more helpful to look at it from the experiential point of view, what you’re experiencing in the moment. William Bridges put it this way: all change begins with endings, letting something or someone go, followed by the neutral zone, where you experience confusion and frustration, not knowing where it’s all going, and finally, a new beginning. This is all completely normal.

However, you’re having to cycle through that process almost daily, and that can take its toll. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep your focus on the impact you want to have with your business. It directly affects your business’ well-being and sustainability.

It may feel like having impact is the last thing you can worry about, with operational issues likely taking center stage right now. When you’re committed to having impact with your business, now is actually a golden time.

Your focus on impact is an invaluable guide that keeps you on track even as you are navigating rapid change. Here are ways that you and your business can maintain and even increase your impact during the pandemic:

  1. Serve your people. Many of your clients and customers are reeling and trying to figure this all out too, whether yours is a B2C or B2B business. How can you help? You can reach out to reassure them and find out what they really need right now. What can you to address those issues? It’s a time for service and creativity. Go above and beyond your usual level of service and even product.
  1. Think more of others and less of yourself. Doing so will not only keep your own anxiety at bay. Your focus on others translates into a team that can better maintain the business, working together effectively. They are struggling to make sense of all this change too. You can model behaviors and an attitude that will help them.
  1. Be flexible. As I described around our experiences of change, things are moving quickly. Be nimble in your response to client and customer requests. Be open to new possibilities in how your team can work, and work together. How can you quickly adapt to what they really need? And how can you adapt again when that changes?
  1. Offer to help your community. There are members of your community who lack resources and really need your help. How can your business contribute? How can you bring love for your fellow beings into this situation?
  1. Seek out support. Many government agencies are offering financial support, especially for small businesses. Find out what’s available and apply if you need the help. Turn to your mentors: many of us have gone through rapidly changing situations and have practical advice and also moral support to offer. We want to help.

One thing that makes this rapid change we are all undergoing unique is exactly that: we are all in this together. I will go so far as to say that we will benefit from it. We are recognizing the value of our connections, that the quality of our relationships matter, and that what we do affects each other. How perfectly this mirrors the impact that you and your business can have.

By the way, all these skills you’re developing responding to rapid change? They’ll make you so much more resilient in future times of rapid growth, and responding to other quickly changing situations like a competitive environment shift. You’re in a prime training ground for sustaining your business right now. Know that it is all good learning.

These times too shall pass. In the meantime, you can be leading through change: a leader in your business and community with the impact that you can have. Carpe diem, my friend. Let’s help each other through this.

 

About

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.