This was meant to be a post on systems; fitting into one, creating some and sustaining them altogether. I wanted to talk about building systems for a function as opposed to a position or a specific person. I was going to point out that it is your responsibility, in whatever position you are in, to create systems for the longevity of your organisation and not for the sake of securing your own position. That making the wheel turn smoother is one good way to be valuable in your organisation. The title was going to be big wheels and proud marys, like the Tina Turner song.
That was election period though: they come once every 5 years, we know it will die down once the rioters get hungry or the politicians get hungry and we had learnt from the last time anyway.
But it has been a tough week. Nothing is certain right now, not even for an organisation with the best-laid plans. During the last election, the agency I worked in had to employ emergency measures. The office was at just the outskirts of a hotspot and most of the employees used public transport. This meant that we could very easily get caught up in anything and either a) get stuck in the office or b) get stuck in the melee. We carried our machines home for a day or two then came back. We lost some business then, tough decisions were made and some people were angry but life went on. That was election period though: they come once every 5 years, we know it will die down once the rioters get hungry or the politicians get hungry and we had learnt from the last time anyway. Where we are at today, it is so very different. First off, it’s not just about one country, it’s everyone everywhere. Second, there is no accurate prediction of how long it will last. With every new case announced there is another 2 week quarantine period to add on to the isolation. The consequences are massive and uncontrollable affecting economies, families, mental health, every industry, governments, there is literally no foreseeable boundary between the safe and unsafe.
One thing we can all agree is that no one is having it easy. The business owner is on end on how to keep the business afloat for the next 6 months. If it’s a big company, it’s the tough choice of what or whom to cut off. For the start-up, it’s how to survive without having to move back into your parents’ house. The employee is praying to keep their job or how to handle the extra workload that’s looming. The old are worried about their young and the young are worried if they will ever get old.
“The recession taught the lesson that the only thing worse than being forced to work is being forced not to work”Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill was a book written after the first world war and the great depression of 1930. One of the most relevant quotes right now was “the recession taught the lesson that the only thing worse than being forced to work is being forced not to work”. I think the current uncertainty on the state of work is our hardest dilemma to face right now. This is a book I recommend reading, especially with the many other factors that are out of our control in a crisis. He talks of his personal and consecutively successful career ventures despite so many mishaps, overcoming depression and discovering his “other-self”.
Another take out for a time like this is, (in my brother’s words), that no crisis should be wasted. A documentary discussing the history of epidemics shows how medicine evolves to solve health better with every pandemic and that this one was predicted. Nature being uncontrollable still shocked us but unlike the black plague, we have a better clue how to minimise the damage. A crisis shows you a gap in your society, government, savings/spending mentality, your business productivity, work mindset etc. This is the time to see and solve those gaps.
I challenge you to do the same for your position: you won’t find any solutions in panic or misery.
The rallying cry to choose hope is valiant, it is all we truly have, this hope. So let’s take it up objectively. May this season help us put into perspective how to be better in our organisations. For myself, it’s a challenge to clean up and streamline how I and the people around me work. It’s a chance to show the rest of the firm our value and drive my agenda to change people’s perspective. I challenge you to do the same for your position: you won’t find any solutions in panic or misery. You do have material to work with to take a step back to review. I think that’s a better focus than struggling with worry.