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It ain't over as yet

It ain't over as yet

 16 Aug 2020  |    Jahnavi Gurjer

We had just relocated into our new office and I had the responsibility of leading the consulting business for our organization, when I heard rumblings about a new coronavirus wreaking havoc in Wuhan, China. I wasn’t aware then that COVID-19 would inflict illness and death in most communities across the world and affect every economy, some much more than others.

The fact that leadership gurus, seminars, workshops, and numerous books do not, and often cannot, prepare you and for this pandemic is certainly an unexpected but an indelible lesson for me. So, having inherited the situation, I involuntarily boarded myself onto physically relocating my office and strategically repositioning our business. The extreme clumsiness I demonstrated while leading and navigating my team through the roughest uncertainties of what’s next, was stark and embarrassing.

For the first time, it was a test of my optimism, and trust me this was not easy, especially when we get paid for creating optimistic and motivating eco-systems for people and organizations. In fact, the reality that no one can escape from the grimness of the daily news hit me hard. And every day my instinct to live in denial as a response to the rising infection curve, made me argumentative, skeptical, and fool-hardy. While many colleagues, friends and family members were being displaced in varying intensities, hospitals were overflowing with patients, and day laborers were scavenging for food, I continued to profess that this pandemic was the biggest illegitimate child of ‘vile politics and opportunistic media’.

The outcome, however, was a ‘thud’, a loud crash of my business. Clients had frozen assignments, our revenues were going south and my entire team hid their fears behind their masks. Soon, I was feeling lost and irrational. I stopped going to the office for a few days. I was on the verge of shutting down.

Then one day, it happened. While I was walking my four-legged golden retriever Moca, I a firm non-believer, gently submitting into accepting reality. I noticed that he was unafraid to take a stand against the stray dogs on the street who threatened to attack him viciously. In spite of their loud and menacing barks, Moca walked past them undaunted, re-establishing his claim over his territory while enjoying his stroll.

It was at that moment that I chose to stop ranting and start caring. With an altered lens of what appeared to be a world masked by despair, suddenly it surfaced. There was an opportunity for me and my team to make ourselves useful to others. In fact, COVID-19 pushed us to start sailing even as we began designing and building our new ship.

Though we didn’t know what we didn’t know, the emergence of new data began to amplify our conviction towards embracing the vividity of this pandemic. Not everything about it was wrong. While the anxieties have never been truer, it had a new charm. We knew that we had to alter what we did and make changes NOW. We had to reconfigure our ability to work with incomplete information, redefine our pattern of decision making, redesign our product portfolio, recalibrate our fees, and above all rewire our minds. The pressure to deliver in times of great need, with the anxiety of loved ones being affected, has now become our new catalyst for success.

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