This is truly an extraordinary time! On Tuesday March 10th, I felt the worst of the COVID-19 virus situation was behind us. China appeared to have suppressed the virus as the factories were on track to be back to full production by the end of March. Customer orders were also coming back to normal.
Little did I know that here in North America, the full impact of COVID-19 was just beginning to take hold. In less than 48 hours all the major professional sports leagues ceased operations; fights to and from Europe were suspended; universities, restaurants, and schools shutdown and the stock markets took their biggest hit since 1987! This list goes on and grows by the hour.
We are clearly facing uncertain times. The challenge for us is separating what’s important from the noise. We need to harness our emotions so that the rational part of our brains can help us make the right decision. Not knowing what might come next can cause us to hesitate, and not make decisions for the future of our businesses.
A reluctance to move forward is a normal reaction to uncertainty. We always feel more confident when we have clarity about our situation and what’s to come. The challenge for us now, how do we plan for a future that seems less and less certain by the day?
To help my thinking, I went back to an article my mentor, Dan Sullivan, from Strategic Coach, wrote in response to the 9/11 terrorist attack. The article was published a second time in 2008 after the stock market crash. Today’s situation is different from 9/11 or 2008, however, the article does provide me a way to think about today’s challenges. I have taken Dan’s original 10 statements and provide my own comments in relation to our industry.
1) Forget about Yourself; Focus on Others
Uncertainty and fear of the unknown can make us think about ourselves and ignore others. Instead, think about how you can be useful to your family, customers, and vendors. Reach out to be supportive and helpful.
2) Forget about your Commodity; Focus on your Relationships
Everyone has concerns about what will or could happen, however relationships are what got us to the place we are in today. The strength of these relationships will carry us forward, not our products.
3) Forget about the Sale; Focus on Creating Value
I believe that people buy for their reasons and not due to the marketing or sales. Everyone is attracted to value, not just cost or a slick sales pitch. Be as valuable as possible to your customers. Value is more than our commodities, it is how we help others think about their world.
4) Forget about your Losses; Focus on Opportunities
There will be financial impacts from COVID-19. The ramifications will definitely have an impact on the world as we know it. However, for every action there is always another opportunity created. We need to be of clear minds in order to find it.
5) Forget about your Difficulties; Focus on Your Progress
Life always brings challenges, it is how we respond that determines whether we win or lose. Drawing confidence from our past achievements and progress, gives us the confidence to handle our challenges.
6) Forget about the “Future”; Focus on Today
In these uncertain times, the future is not clear. As people, we always prefer certainty to uncertainty. Today is far more certain than the future, so make an impact today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
7) Forget about Who You Were; Focus on Who You Can Be
Our past was defined by the situation and circumstances of the past. That was who we were. As the future will be different, so must we change to adapt to the new world situation. The opportunity is to become a “new you” that is relevant for tomorrow.
8) Forget about Events; Focus on Responses
Trying to predict what President Trump or other governments are going to do to defeat COVID-19 is out of our hands. Whatever decisions, and actions are taken, are out of our control. However our response to each event is totally within our control. Focus on how to turn a potential negative situation into a win-win for you and your customer. A sailor knows he cannot control the winds. However, he can adjust his sails.
9) Forget about What’s Missing; Focus on What’s Available
As the world emerges from the post COVID-19 crisis, it will be different. The world is unlikely to go back to the way it was, before we first heard about Coronavirus in January 2020. We need to be clear of mind to see what is currently available to do everything we can do to help people and organizations grow.
10) Forget about your Complaints; Focus on your Gratitude
It is very easy to complain about how COVID-19 will impact your personal and business life. We can blame a country or government, however, complaining will not change anything, except negatively impact your attitude. No one likes to be around negative people. The better approach is to reflect on everything you are grateful for in your life. Let others around you know how much you appreciate them. This positive approach will open you to be receptive to new ideas and new possible outcomes.
GCP’s core purpose is to help people and organizations grow. We are committed to helping you navigate these challenges and support your growth. The future is always uncertain, but that does not change our commitment. We will adjust our approach and adapt to the situation. In times like these we tend to keep perspective in mind. Trade will not stop, the need to source great products from multiple countries will continue as it has for centuries. As trade exists, GCP will be here to assist you and your customers.
Until next time,
Gary Mottershead – President, GCP Industrial Products
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