What Do We Want?21st Apr 2020
“We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
– Brene Brown
What Have We Learned?
Over the past few days I’ve reflected on what I’ve learned during lockdown. Lockdown has forced me to let go of some of my old habits e.g. commuting every day, and doing work face-to-face. It’s got me experimenting with new ways e.g. delivering keynotes online, and only working mornings. Lockdown has given me the opportunity to experiment. And it’s got me realising ‘hey, there might be a better way here!’
I’ve heard plenty of people say the same. Many have celebrated the faster decision times, the rise in community spirit, and the reductions in pollution levels. The types of things that we’ve previously hoped for but, back then, seemed all too hard to achieve.
It seems we might have learned a lot about what’s possible!
Now, I look forward to a time when we move out of Level Four restrictions, I’ve found myself asking a different question: “What do I want?” And as we all reflect on the good that’s come from lockdown, it’s time to ask: “what do we want?”
What Do We Want?
Robert Fritz suggests the hardest question in the world to answer is ‘what do you want?’ It means doing the hard work of defining our higher desires, overcoming our fears, and being in the messiness of the creative process.
We could simply ask for a return to normal. And we’d be kidding ourselves. I reckon most of us know that we won’t get that.
Instead, we’ve now got a unique opportunity to “build back better”. To shape a future that we want, for ourselves, for our organisations and for our society. To capture the good and to weave it into a new way of thinking and operating.
Start With Vision
Vision pulls us forward out of the madness of the mundane and the vacuum of uncertainty. It gives us a possibility to live into that fully engages our creative energy. Vision galvanises. Whenever you see a society, organisation or person that’s truly flourishing, it’s because they’ve clearly defined a positive future vision for themselves.
I’ve started to tackle ‘what do I want?’ by reimagining the sort of life and work I want in five years from now. I’ve been reflecting on what’s lit me up in the past, journaling on what I yearn for in the future, and incorporating the elements of the good stuff I’ve taken from lockdown. I’m shaping a positive image of the future. I’m not there yet, but on the way. It’s exciting.
The Future Is Now
I sense that many of us see that we have a window of opportunity to change for the better how our society, organisations and individuals work. And I reckon that this window of opportunity won’t be open for long. History shows us that there’s a strong gravitational pull back to the familiar.
For example, after the disruption that resulted from Kaikoura earthquakes in 2016, many people reported that they really enjoyed aspects working from home, and were keen to create some form of new normal with their organisations. However, for most, there was no concerted or co-ordinated follow up, and nothing really changed.
Like Platform 9 and ¾ in the Harry Potter movies, this window will soon close and, until the next major crisis at least, the opportunity for capitalising on the good will be lost.
As leaders and change-makers, our role now is to begin to host conversations about both ‘what have we learned?’ and ‘what do we want?’ The dust is settling. We can start to lift our heads from dealing with the immediate crisis and begin to think of the longer-term. We can, and should, ask questions like:
- What opportunities have emerged from this crisis?
- What good practices and behaviours do we want to take forward?
- What might we create out of the chaos that we have just been through?
This crisis is a crucible for change. We now have a unique window of opportunity to act and embed new ways of working for the better. This window won’t stay open forever though. The time for capitalising on the insights and opportunities is now.
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