With our economy slowly re-opening, most of my conversations include forecasts of the recovery. Will it be V shaped, U shaped, Spiked shaped, or No shaped? No one knows. Most business owners and executives are wondering if their January business models will be appropriate in this “new normal” restart. What to offer, how to offer, and who works where are all questions I hear from my clients. Add the uncertainty most employees are feeling, and you have a recipe for a real strategic challenge to the post-COVID-19 business culture.
The answer to all these questions on recovery is focus. The abrupt shutdown and resulting forced isolation has created a natural inward focus on ourselves. How is this or that affecting ME? This is the mass response and fully understandable. My response follows the advice of motivational legend Jim Rohn, “ Look at what the masses do, and do the opposite.” Call it 80/20, contrarianism, or stubborn independence, but focusing on others before yourself is the essence of servant leadership. It’s based on the Law of Sowing and Reaping. Sowing into others first always yields a greater harvest to the sower. Just does!
So my approach to re-opening is to focus every conversation around, “How are YOU doing?” rather than how am I doing. And keep sowing. Avoid the typical ping pong approach of responding to the answer with, “I understand, and I am doing ……” As Dale Carnegie pointed out over 90 years ago, the best conversationalists always continue asking questions based on the other person’s response rather than immediately turning the spotlight back on themselves.
Here’s a couple of tests to gauge your current skill sets:
1) Go a day without using the word “I.” An hour trips most of us.
2) Ask two more follow up questions in every conversation before responding about yourself.
Simple but not easy. I have yet to pass either one. I’m not dead yet, so I'm not quitting.
Invite Zig Ziglar into your planning sessions and see if your recovery surpasses your current worry. As Zig illustrated, “You can have anything you want, if you are willing to help enough other people get what they want.” Happy sowing! 😊