7 Things Successful People Are Doing Right Now To Prepare For The Next COVID Lockdown
Most people are feeling some relief from the relaxation of the Coronavirus lockdown measures. Yet, successful professionals are thinking differently. Given evidence of a “second wave” of lockdowns and rumors of a Fall resurgence in the virus, many are using the time to reposition for the a post-COVID marketplace.
Among their goals, successful people and their businesses are better learning to respond to disruption. At the same time, many are seeing the Coronavirus outbreak as a major paradigm shift. Thus, from now on—as they see it—everything from what their customers want and need, to how they’ll compete in satisfying those wants and needs, will change.
Moreover, these changes, while forced and sudden, are not necessarily bad. Disruption—even when external and traumatic—often breeds creativity and innovation. It also gives growth to those who respond to it in the right way. Thus, while many of us are taking time to relax, some successful people are doing at least 7 things to prepare themselves for greater success, such as:
- Accepting the paradigm shift as a permanent change. There’s a psychological tendency for us to believe “the big one hasn’t happened”. We believe it will—just not now. Thus, even if the sky falls in on us, we fail to recognize our worst fears have materialized. Worse yet, even when accept catastrophe, our minds reject that it might bring permanent changes. Our thinking habits feed this mindset. For example, the ostrich effect is a mental hangup that leads us to ignore what’s happening. We bury our heads in the sand, hoping things will get better. And status quo bias is another hangup that gets us to resist change, even if we see the necessity of change. Moreover, the endowment effect is a tendency for us to overvalue what we possess—whether it’s something material, a fleeting hope or an idea. We love that endowment so much, we refuse to take beneficial risks for fear of losing it. Taken together, these mental hangups prevent us from recognizing permanent change when it comes. They leave us in dreamland. Yet, successful people resist such biases. They understand burying our heads in the sand is self-destructive. They see the status quo as something that we have to formally test against new ways which might be better. And they question whether their “endowments” are false senses of security. The rewards from relinquishing these hangups pay dividends. They come in the form of thinking more clearly about the future and noting a paradigm shift has come and won’t be shifting back.
- Donning more entrepreneurial mindsets. Whether you’re a teacher, a corporate CEO or a librarian, the quarantine measures have openly tested you. Perhaps they challenged you to pivot. For others, they called into question the fundamental importance of your job function. Teachers, for example, are likely to remain important during any foreseeable quarantine measure. Yet, the previous lockdown showed the classic teaching model needs pivoting. Not only do most teachers and their employers need to adopt better digital learning platforms, both may need to say goodby to tenure. Corporate executives on the other hand face a different problem. Many of these professionals fulfill general management roles that don’t require any specific expertise. It is hard for them to argue why their role cannot be restructured. As a result, such professionals cannot pivot their way to importance. As individuals, they need figure out what marketable products and services they have to sell and who wants to buy them. Thus, whether the need is to pivot or to re-purpose, successful professionals must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset—even if they continue to work for someone else.
- Realizing the fine art of pivoting. The first step towards becoming more entrepreneurial is learning to pivot. Successful people realize if everything around them changes, they need to change as well—and fast. They start this process by checking their skills against what change requires. For example, if they work for an events company, a second lockdown could destroy their business model. Yet, that doesn’t mean some important aspects of their model can’t be salvaged. To determine this, the successful person starts by asking ‘dumb’ questions. Can the company’s extensive connections be used or leveraged in other ways? Are the marketing and promotions techniques reusable or adaptable? Can the lockdown be used for R&D to re-emerge later as a better business? Similar questions are asked on a professional career level. In other words, an effective pivot means first checking the extent of the damage from disruption. After this, successful professionals see what can be re-salvaged and re-purposed.
- Becoming demand-driven. Corporate executives are often accustomed to an established demand for their well branded products. They know what they’re selling will sell and the main challenge is finding the right buyers. This approach to assessing demand is called Total Addressable Market analysis. It works well when things are certain and, as I said, when demand is almost guaranteed. But when things go haywire—say, as they did during COVID-19—this falls apart. While some demand may remain, delivery channels my change dramatically. Furthermore, disruption may create new problems for customers. Thus, smart professionals see disruption as a time to develop new solutions. This approach is called, Total Addressable Problem analysis. It’s startup founder’s thinking. It follows the logic that one’s customers may have one set of problems before a paradigm shift and a different set of problems after. Old solutions might not work for new problems—even when digital. Zoom, for example, has had problems with many corporate users fearing its cloud security. Successful people realize all this. As individuals, they inventory their skills, then see what new problems they can solve. And, as leaders of bigger companies, they imagine how their employer’s solutions might be adapted to solve new problems. In both cases, they re-work old solutions or create new ones, where necessary.
- Learning to identify new markets for their skills. At the same time, new customers might suddenly appear. For example, with a second wave, an apparent weakness, such as a centralized distribution model, might become a competitive strength—such as local positioning. In other words, nothing is static. Both the customers’s problems and the customers themselves can change. That means they must explore new markets, perhaps even abandoning old ones. As the below-the-belt, novelist Mickey Spillane once said to his critics: “There are a more salted peanuts consumed than caviar." In other words, you might have had a powerful solution that, up to now, has been successful in a niche market. Yet, it might be necessary to explore the prospect of a new market segment created by the lockdown. I’ll leave it you to decide whether that new market consists of peanuts or caviar.
- Becoming better risk-takers. Another fundamental element to donning an entrepreneurial mindset involves becoming a better risk-taker. Of course, superstar CEOs all believe themselves expert, “risk-takers”. For example, in their books they claim to have had foresight in taking risks others were afraid to take. Yet, golden parachutes, indemnity protections and established brands are all signal this risk-taking, rebel approach is in their heads. Indeed, work by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and a co-author has shown that many executives making these claims suffer from overconfidence. And overconfidence among top leadership costs the world billions of dollars every year in everything from massive corporate and policy failures to pointless wars. The reason? Overconfidence often combines with another mental bias known as loss aversion. Related to the endowment effect already mentioned, loss aversion leads us to take too much or too little risk, at the wrong times. For example, when the company we work has had a successful run, we don’t pivot when we need to, believing the success will continue. The same thing happens in our professional lives. We get comfortable, resist adjusting, believe things will continue to go well—then we become out-dated. At the same time, with failures or, as in the case of the lockdown, looming losses, we take excessive gambles. For example, working for a major property developer, we plow ahead with finishing a vacation resort, ignoring all the indicators that prospective lockdowns will bring tourism to a halt. In other words, we believe we can defy gravity. Successful professionals are not like this. They recognize that a “loss-avoiding” mindset distorts their view of the future. And one way they get around such a mindset is by assuming whatever change they need to make is just one ‘bet’ among many. In other words, taking a “portfolio mindset” to professional life, reduces reduce loss aversion.
- Spending time mastering new, necessary tools. Last, adjusting to permanent change often requires re-tooling or enhancing one’s toolbox. Successful people are doing that right now. They're exploring how to use alternative platforms for delivering their products and services. They're also learning new techniques for enhancing those offerings. The breakdown of the food supply chain in the US is a good example. Local farmers—once locked out of the big food market—are now using more sophisticated apps than many of their giant predecessors. Partnered with innovative shipping companies, they’re able to offer higher quality products at competitive prices. Yet, it would be a mistake to assume these small farmers automatically made such changes. It took investments, better risk-taking and, in many cases, outside financial help.
Thus, from a risk and behavioral science perspective, the prospect of a “second wave” of COVID-19 leaves only one course of action. Prepare for another, potential lockdown. It might not come. It might come. In any case, if it does come, smart and successful people are using the present moment to prepare for it. Are you?
Source : Forbes