On March 11th, 2020, nearly 2 years ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 15th, New York and Ohio began to shut down their bars and restaurants.
Since then, we’ve experienced massive loss, a threat to democracy with an increase in hate, racism, and misogyny to boot. So much so, that as a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner/Hypnotherapist I’ve seen an uprise in the number of clients coming to me for racial trauma, social isolation and avolition (lack of motivation).
Please know there is help available if you feel the need to talk to someone, but maybe you cannot afford traditional therapy.
In the meantime, let’s discuss 7 pivotal lessons we can learn from COVID-19. I sat down with a few of my CEO clients and have their permission to share their experiences in anonymity of their healing process. I asked them to talk about what the meatier lessons learned of the past year — The non-text book answers, if you will, especially in the Black Community. Here is their message to you:
As you balance all the challenges before you, keeping your emotions in check is going to be the biggest lesson you can take away. While I know we all want this virus and pandemic to be over, we can’t heal if we don’t talk about it. We can’t learn if we don’t grow from it and we can’t be healthy if we can’t stay in isolation.
Lesson 1: Boundaries & Self Care Are Necessary
Boundaries allow us to maintain healthy relationships in our personal and professional lives and often keep them from crossing over. They are how we protect our space and our energy. We’ve been so uptight these past two years (and some of us still are) that we often forget to give ourselves time to grieve (our former lives, loved ones, etc.) and to rest and ruminate.
Saying “NO” is just one boundary example, there are many more. Boundaries aren’t an excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do. Boundaries are a form of self-care and now more than ever it is important that we do BOTH.
According to Google Trends, the number of searches for “self-care” has more than doubled since 2015. Self care is not just about giving yourself a facial every week. It’s about hygiene care, medical care, mental health and nutritional care — your entire wellbeing. What can you do today in each of those areas to show yourself some love and self care? Do you know who you need to set boundaries with? Think about it, and never act on emotion or trends. Remember, we’re STILL in this pandemic. Outside pajamas are now a thing!
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Prioritize YOU! If not, as the CEO your business will suffer.
Lesson 2: Technology Matters
Technology has steadily been increasing, I won’t take away from that, but what is super important to understand is how much we realized we depend on it and now want to use it for everything.
We typically went inside the doctor’s office to see someone, went to the classroom for school, tried on shoes at the shoe store, touched the melons, squeezed the Charmin and went to open houses with grocery store cookies on a nice plate. We didn’t even mind spending $100 at the movie theater for a small bag of popcorn and a soda.
Now? Telemedicine makes it possible to see the doctor and Dashers squeeze the fruit now and then drop it off at your door without even having to see them. Company meetings are done on Zoom, people went to work remotely and loved it. Online banking more than doubled as did online sales.
As a business owner that means more sales, better marketing capabilities, quicker communication, most importantly, centralized management of it all.
What new technologies have you implemented in your business since the start of the pandemic?
Lesson 3: They Will Be Back…Just Slowly
Don’t let the online rush get you bummed if you have brick and mortar. The National Retail Federation announced that it expects retail sales to grow between 6-8% in 2022. According to the trade group, this equates to about $5 trillion in retail sales. This is due to a shift in online sales to people wanting to get out of the house and back to normal life. If that is even such a thing anymore.
As a salon owner, we have noticed that customers are coming back, just slowly. We have noticed that those that came back are looking for convenience and an experience. During the pandemic our online beauty supply store and bundle sales tripled. Now that people are coming back in the store, the demand for bundles on hand has increased.
All age demographics are returning to the stores for the experience. As a business owner, you will want to make sure they have fresh new products and services to return to. Look at Ulta Beauty and Kohl’s as great examples of post pandemic merchandise and sales.
Lesson 4: Be Flexible
This seems quite loaded, considering I just told you to set boundaries. Let me explain. Setting boundaries are for your health and wellness as the CEO of your company. Being flexible is a business decision that your entire company and its culture must accept, if you want to see any type of success in this new economic environment. It should now be standard company practice.
What is “Be flexible?” This answer is not going to be the same for every CEO reading this. There is however a general rule of thumb that can be applied when deciding what your breaking points are.
- Flexibility in whether you require the vaccine and how you will handle working remotely
- Flexibility in offering curbside service and delivery options instead of pick up
- Flexibility in allowing employees time for mental health and offering those services in house
These are just some ideas from a client and employee perspective. If you ARE the employee, then this applies to you too. What flexibility steps have you taken to remain ahead of the competition?
Lesson 5: Consistency is Key
Just as flexibility is important, so is consistency. As the CEO you set the tone and work culture. During times of crisis, transparency, and an open door policy mean everything to those you work with — virtual or not.
The top CEOs in the country flourish in times of crisis as their natural leadership abilities kick in. They are able to quickly adapt, create new goals and strategies but still maintain order. Your clients and employees should never feel negative about change. It’s up to you to give them the consistency and reliability they depend on from their leader.
Keep in mind, it’s more than just being consistent for the sake of doing so. Be intentional and be consistent in the following areas specifically as a CEO.
- Messaging – it trickles down
What are some other areas you can be consistent in your business that weren’t mentioned here?
Lesson 6: Your Network is Your Net Worth
I have never found more value in my network than in the middle of a pandemic. While there are many advantages to having mentors in the same industry, I cannot tell you how many CEOs of other industries have formed a “network” with other industries to cross promote, service, support and invest in.
Doing so remotely, allows you to connect with more people, in more places, in the same amount of hours you would’ve used to travel all over the country, prior to the pandemic.
Create JV partnerships with your network and see how you can cross promote each other during these challenging times. Word of mouth is still the King of referral sources.
Make a list of your contacts and their industry and find out how you two can cross promote and support each other.
Lesson 7: Do What You Love Not What You Must
None of the above will mean anything or actually be effective, if you aren’t doing what you love, but doing what you must. It’s not hard to find yourself consumed with your business, side blinders on. So much so it becomes tedious and obligatory instead of thrilling and rewarding.
If you can wake up every morning excited to do what you love, you are off to a great start. Nobody says it is going to be easy, or that you’re supposed to LOVE your business every single day. We’re human. At the end of the day, the question must be answered. Is all of this worth it?
If you answered no, then you are doing what you MUST and that needs to change. Do you do what you love or what you must? Do you truly know the difference?
There are many more important business lessons we learned throughout this pandemic, and continually learn as we wage on. The most important thing is to take care of YOU. You are the lesson for someone else. Always remember that.