by Tom Fels (@thomasfels) I remember watching CNN live the first time it called covid-19 ‘a pandemic’, ahead of the World Health Organisation. It was controversial in the moment and the news broadcaster claimed it because it had a sense of where we were headed. Now, the term is a part of our daily lexicon. Another addition to our lockdown vocabulary is the premise of a ‘new normal’.

Everyone is referring to what life will be like beyond this crisis as the ‘new normal’ — an inherited state of existence. It seems lost on us that, while we’ll be impacted by macro factors and, yes, there will be suffering, we’ll be the shapers of this ‘new normal’. Inherent in this is the power of choice. Let us make use of that power to make it a ‘better normal’ than the old one.

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The lessons we’re learning

We’re surely at the start of a long journey and I believe we’re yet to face the worst of the medical and economic impacts to result from the crisis. Yet, in our own resilient and human way, we’re making sense of the situation while learning in myriad ways.

We’re learning about the rekindled love of family and appreciating the time we spend together. We’re learning to cook with heart and to share mealtimes once more. We’re learning to appreciate small changes around us, from changes in daily weather to the change of season. We’re embracing a new level of compassion for total strangers, whether affected or not. We’re learning kindness. We’re missing loved ones far away, our sociability and connecting with friends — and we’re learning to bridge those gaps with technology.

Business in community

With planes on the ground, the global business village is somehow more connected than ever before. The doors to game-changing content, speakers, university courses and coaches in various fields are wide open, and entrance is, most often, free.

We have, within a few short weeks, developed community around common interests and passions that may otherwise have taken years or even decades to build.

Sharing is commonplace. Whether by generous gesture, value exchange, or deferred payment, there’s a willingness to give of oneself at a level I can’t recall in my lifetime. In many respects, we’re going back to a village economy — where participants give what they will and pay what they can.

The change we shape

Whether we’ve asked for it or not, we’ve been placed squarely back in our familiar spaces, but in a way that’s forced us to reshape how we interact with them. We’ve had to reassess our spending, our possessions and, in many cases, our careers — or at least how we navigate what’s to come.

In all of this, as the panic subsides and the dust settles, an appreciation for simplicity has emerged. We had all too often forgone many of life’s simple pleasures: of achieving balance, fostering an appreciation of nature, moving our bodies, connecting, cooking, eating and, yes, sleeping. All of this is giving us the stimulus to shape sustained change in our lives.

For business, this can be a moment of sublime transition, should we choose to embrace it. To serve in the context of community, to be guided by revived principles and to reinforce the ‘lived’ demonstration of our stated values, so that we can sow the seeds of a more-fitting economic legacy.

Far from hibernating in this lockdown, in many ways, we’ve been reawakened.

See also


Tom FelsTom Fels (@thomasfels) is a mission-driven brand expert, keynote speaker and an evangelist for conscious business. He’s just launched Animarem, a boutique impact advisory that guides and powers the shift toward conscious business. More recently, he was CEO at Singita and Nurun and group MD of Publicis Machine (now Machine_), where he oversaw local and global award-winning communications, digital and hospitality businesses. A past contributor, his new monthly column, “Mission”, motivates for a more-conscious approach to business and intends to inspire change.

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