These are difficult times and also the kind of times that bring out the best in each of us.
Now that we’re looking at an extended period of living mostly within the confines of our own homes and working remotely, it may be the perfect time to refocus our professional outlook. In times like these most people tend to hunker down in survival mode and wait for the storm to pass. Understandably it’s a lot to integrate new technologies and communication challenges from a kitchen table while navigating homework assignments for a sixth grader or caring for others. Things are constantly shifting and it appears all too surreal.
This is exactly the time to ask: Is there an opportunity in this crisis that I come out of it more successful, personally and professionally? How can I push forward even while the ground is shifting below me? Crisis and opportunity are two sides of the coin, they say. Some of you have saved commuting time. Could this time be invested wisely to become a better person?
This is a time, I believe, to differentiate yourself as a high performer in your organization.
What’s Your Plan?
If you are ready to look at this as an opportunity, let’s throw out the old norms altogether and try something new. Ask yourself these important questions:
- Can I inject new energy into those online meetings even when I am not the host?
Listen carefully, acknowledge people, give credit to the host and others where due. Most people tend to become pensive in the online world, so time to shine.
- How can I increase the value in what I do to fulfill the mission of the organization?
Time to think creatively. The business environment has changed. There are new opportunities opening up. Throw a few ideas out there. One of them is likely to stick and you will look good.
- How can I be more collaborative?
Reach out to your teammates proactively and engage them in your efforts. Seek their input and advice. This creates value for you and energizes them as they feel appreciated. Come up with a new or improved product or service idea and brainstorm with your team. The core idea is to engage people in a positive context.
- How can I help the organization better serve the community?
Come up with a list of volunteering ideas and bring it up in your team meeting. Be the first to volunteer and become the role model.
- What do I need to learn to move up in the organization?
Come up with new learning opportunities for yourself and your team. Lifelong learning is a fundamental way of life for the professional and there are enormous remote and online opportunities awaiting. Take stock of what your professional skills are and consider how they may be applied to a new field.
I hope all this seems pretty easy. Yes, it is that simple. Success comes from doing the obvious and what’s at hand.
Keeping Our Focus
We are inundated with negative information and it takes some work to maintain a positive frame of mind. We have to shelter ourselves from this constant bombardment of fear and worry so we don’t end up binge-watching an entire Netflix series on one dark afternoon. So many of our community connections are lost these days that we need to replace them by doing a better job of reaching out.
These are some things that help me focus and feel positive:
- I keep my worry window to 30 minutes a day.
- I practice mindfulness.
- I focus on learning something new.
- I work to connect with people and connect people with other people.
- I do one random act of kindness most days.
- I ask myself, What did I do today that made an impact on the community?
So much of it is how we see ourselves and the world around us. Find a mentor or buddy to keep you honest with your plans because it takes discipline to stay focused. These are difficult times and also the kind of times that bring out the best in each of us.
I look forward to hearing your ideas on this topic in this new world.
Dean, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension