In the last thirty years, we have built up a huge consulting industry around leadership, coaching, engagement, persuasion, marketing and the rest.
Advising, not doing. Risk free expertise.
Whilst things were relatively stable, we could develop best practice, and neat models that could be applied without really having to understand them. They did a good enough job to warrant the cost, even though they rarely delivered sustainable changes at the level they promised. In the calm before the storm, they were good enough and provided evidence we were doing things.
With a preference for short term perspectives, all seemed well. Incremental change worked. It was nice whilst it lasted.
Alan Moore tells me there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.
That seems appropriate right now. There’s a storm coming. Choose your weather pattern. Brexit. End of Furlough. Second wave Covid. And those are just our local issues. Don’t mention climate change, or ecological diversity, or trade wars.
We are facing huge uncertainty. It will be like that for a while. Sorry.
The calm is over.
OK, with that out of the way, how do we prepare for the storm?
Firstly, by choosing who to rely on. That would be ourselves, and those around us who we choose. Resilience, and it’s more powerful sibling, antifragility, arise from acting as who we really are, not who someone else has asked us to be, as part of something we are proud to identify with.
Secondly, by changing our timeframes. For the short term, we’re just going to have to hunker down, and do what we need to stay safe. It won’t be elegant, or pretty, or predictable, and nor will it be as bad as we fear. It never is. We’re just going to have to ride it out as best we can.
To extend the metaphor, if you’re in your own clothes – learning to do something important to you, for reasons grounded in a sense of meaning and purpose, that contributes to those around you, that’s good storm clothing.
If you’re wearing clothes you’ve been given – in a job that means little, that doesn’t develop you or those around you, something not important enough to sacrifice for, you’re likely to get pretty wet for a while.
Thirdly, have a clear sense of where you want to head when the storm has passed.
- What do you feel you are really here to do?
- What arouses your curiosity and sense of adventure?
- How will you balance these energies to keep them alive during the storm?
- How will you help those around you?
- When the storm passes, and you can venture out, where will you want to head?
While the storm is present, we can prepare. We can learn pretty much anything without leaving our shelter. We can build relationships that matter. We can think, reflect and decide what next.
After the storm
Storms clear out the dead wood and detritus.
It will be a time not for advice, or speculation, or consulting – it will be a time for doing. For contributing. For regeneration.
Perhaps, the other side of this we will be able to put what has brought us here – unbridled consumption, the search for perpetual financial growth, the division of the spoils of growth amonst only a very few, the sacrificing of the planet that we are part of – behind us.
Perhaps, we can contribute to create something altogether more worthy of us, more beautiful even, that is a tribute to our potential as part of the planet.
Be a shame to waste a good crisis.