GPS says: “Recalculating Route …”

(5min reading time)

When mother earth slows down as it does now, it helps to recall that the still point of our spinning planet is the North Star. That gleaming object that the rest of the heavens appear to move around. Steadfast, in the same location every night from dusk to dawn, neither rising nor setting, providing unwavering guidance when we look to the skies – and perhaps beyond.

What should we look out for to successfully navigate these choppy times for our businesses, brands and our teams?

Immediate Positivity is Paramount

Fish don’t see water just like we can’t predict the future. But what we can do is teleport ourselves forward to a sunny autumn day in September, take a walk in a park and look backward in time. What will we think, what will we feel when looking back? I would hope that we would say that despite the human tragedies and economic pain, we grew stronger together. That the slowdown of mother earth and everyone on it had its positive effects, too. That water became clearer and air pollution reduced for good, that more people lived longer in China because of better air than people died of the virus there. That we were surprised by how come together as communities. How fast schools reacted to continue teaching our children. How technology blended into our everyday lives so seamlessly that we could carry on. How desperation spurred innovation, especially for small businesses. How politicians, economists, health and care workers and society at large pulled together. How companies with clarity of Purpose, true leadership and powerful cultures came out stronger to chart a more positive way forward for everyone. And how business finally became more responsible.

We Always Have a Choice.

Instead of identifying problems, speaking of cancellations and delays along with other weaknesses of the economic impact of CoVid19, Purpose-oriented leaders direct their attention to strengths, possibilities, and solutions. They are quick with the facts and slow with the blame. For example, they spot what cannot be canceled (strategic projects and personal passions). They make the best of the new free time born out of a crisis – and get the things done that couldn’t be done when they didn’t have the time. They identify the spheres that are either less affected or are thriving during this economic turmoil. Examples abound from ed-tech, health and pharma, teleworking, e-commerce, media (news, show business, digital apps, gaming, etc.) and many more.

In what ways can we see this crisis as an opportunity?

• It is an opportunity to be creative

• It is an opportunity for re-alignment or even reinvention

• It is an opportunity to invest in one’s organization

• It is an opportunity to invest in your identity and your brand

• It is an opportunity to invest in personal advancement

Winners have an optimistic mindset. They see opportunities where everybody else sees problems and, more importantly, they are able to focus exclusively on exploiting those opportunities.

Understand Reality. Lead the Future.

In times of instability, there is a stronger need for leadership. Purpose-oriented leaders take responsibility. Max DePree, the founder of Herman Miller, once said: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Responsibility is quite literally the ability to respond. A well-rounded picture of the situation is therefore not just a matter of rational optimism, but also of analytical realism so that the ground for action can be prepared.

All the promises we’ve made as leaders or as leading brands are now being put to the test. As Denis Leary said: “Crisis doesn’t create character. It reveals it.” It is in this moment of turmoil much of an organization’s persona is revealed.

Rethinking the Future

When we’ll finally emerge from or collective shut-down, many things will no longer be the same. We can expect paradigm shifts in the way we learn, the way we work, the way we shop… growth of digital is accelerated x10 for good. The force will be on the side of those who are able to adapt and deadly for the ones who don’t.

No matter how uncertain, the current situation is temporary. What you do right in the short-term will have a positive return in the long-term. So instead of being stuck in the short-term reality, it is important to see the bigger picture. As the Nobel laureate, Dr. Daniel Kahneman wisely advised, long-term decisions need to be made with slow thinking.

But without safety, it’s difficult to envisage the future. How could leaders provide a sense of safety in the current situation of uncertainty? In this context, I agree with Dr. Henry Kissinger who said: “In a crisis, the most daring course is often safest.” When Spaceship Earth goes the wrong way, its GPS doesn’t turn off. It simply says ‘recalculating’ – and keeps venturing forward.

Today, not tomorrow is when we all need to rethink and reimagine the future. So that we can all move forward with meaning, clarity, and position ourselves for recovery.

The application of the GPS Framework helps you create your own Guiding Purpose Strategy for re-orientation today and for long-term success tomorrow. Working with and for some of the most powerful brands, global financial services firms, government institutions, charities and tech startups around the world, the GPS Framework represents the cumulative experience of 20+ years of what works.

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