Are You Victim or Victor? – Preparation is the Answer

Lockdown, social isolation. These are the new rules of our lives for the next few months. How you respond will determine if you are victim or victor.

Covid-19 has caused unprecedented changes in our way of life. It has caused us all to spend much more time in our own homes, with much less social contact as we try to contain the spread of this disease.

This is going to result in a very different world in future years (and decades). Whilst I have no doubt that the “Roaring Twenties” of the last Century will return in this, just as they followed WW1 and the Spanish Flu last century.

Whether you are an employee or employer, there are opportunities to be taken. Whilst the victims wallow in fear and doubt, like rabbits in the spotlight, the victors recognise the huge opportunities that arise in times of crisis. The best are already preparing and making plans for the next decade.

But it won’t be the same people who were on top before that come out on top when the dust settles. In any crisis there are winners and losers, victims and victors.

Employment

In the immediate term – to end 2020 employment levels in all countries will escalate. Government stimulus packages designed to counter the impacts of this are reaching unheard of levels.

What is not known I show long the state of emergency or pandemic shutdowns will last? Or how long it will take to recover. The financial stresses that businesses are going through encourage a closer look at costs and efficiencies, and many jobs will be permanently lost.

In his classic book – Bullshit Jobs – David Graeber proposes that up to half of all work is pointless. He includes five types of entirely pointless jobs:

  1. “Flunkies” whose sole purpose is to make their superiors feel important – e.g. receptionist, personal assistants;
  2. “Goons” who act aggressively on behalf of their employers – e.g. lobbyists, corporate lawyers;
  3. Duct tapers, who ameliorate preventable problems, e.g., programmers repairing shoddy code, airline desk staff who calm passengers whose bags don’t arrive;
  4. Box tickers, who use paperwork or gestures as a proxy for action, e.g., performance managers, in-house magazine journalists, leisure coordinators; and
  5. Taskmasters, who manage—or create extra work for—those who don’t need it, e.g., middle management, leadership professionals

Many of these jobs will simply disappear for at least a decade. If you are in one of these jobs, or you realise that your job has no real meaning, and contributes little, I would urge you to take the time in isolation, quarantine or shutdown to prepare for a different future. Don’t just think that after a period of time – it will back to normal. It won’t be. The new normal will be very different, and we can only guess at how different.

What we do know is that it is wise to prepare for this. Use this time to develop your ability to create a new future – build your skills and flexibility.

While all the self-improvement gurus tell a similar story, the fundamentals remain the same. They may be wrapped in different packaging, with different wording and stories, but its very much the same messages which have been around for fifty years or more.

It comes down to setting goals, being focussed and disciplined. I have personally found it useful to be guided by others in this. It keeps you on target and can be a useful tool to motivate when you lose the urge.

The two best in the business are Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins. Selecting between them is as much a matter of personal preference as anything. Either will be a great help to you.

Their longer programs can run to hundreds of dollars, but both have introductory materials such as The Miracle of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy or Find Your True Gift by Tony Robbins which will only set you back the cost of a few cups of coffee (and you can’t go out to but hose now anyway).

Business

Any recession brings with it heartache and misery, we’ve been through it many times before.  This one is likely to be one of the biggest.

But for those with foresight, strong management discipline, and dare I say, “balls”, there are always business opportunities during recession that can provide decades of wealth to follow.

The victors prosper and get rich in times of recession. The money may not turn up for a few years, but it is an incredible opportunity to build the foundations of future wealth.

OK, so this seems to be going in the face of all the doom and gloom that is common, but isn’t that just the point?  If you do the same thing as everyone else, you’ll get the same results as everyone else.

“Fortunes are lost in the boom and made in the bust” JP Morgan

The victims will just keep plodding along, hoping for the best, and will more than likely go broke. The victors will be those who manage their cash flow, have cash (or access to it), those who keep their costs down and maintain their margins. When the victims disappear, the winners will take their market share, employ their best staff and build strong businesses for decade to come.

 The strongest companies in each industry benefit in four ways:

  1. They gain market share by picking up sales that had previously gone to weaker competitors that no longer exist;
  2. With fewer competitors, the strong find they can increase their margins since customers and clients have fewer options.  This is even more valuable than increased sales;
  3. High unemployment in the industry means it is easier to recruit top quality staff that had been working for weaker competitors. Those who survive and take advantage build their knowledge and skill base at a rapid rate; and
  4. They have the opportunity to buy out weaker competitors at bargain prices.

What You Need to Succeed

In a previous post we identified 6 Critical Factors for Success.

These are the skills and traits that will enable you to not only survive, but also prosper in an uncertain and rapidly changing world:

  1. An Action Orientation – nothing happens unless you make it so. Your success or failure is ultimately up to you. Luck will play a part, but perseverance will generally win the day. Staying motivated is essential, as are productive habits;
  2. Continuous learning – in a world of constant and exponential change, we need to be able to adapt and keep up. This is less about knowledge but the ability to source and analyze it. Read widely and be open to new ideas, discuss topics with others;
  3. A questioning attitude – fake news is widely accepted as fact. We need to question all information as to its source, reliability, and veracity. Some may call this cynicism, or being skeptical – we think it essential in a world where information is so readily manipulated;
  4. Flexibility and adaptability – the next decade will be very different from this one. Whilst many try to predict the future, we should be aware of changes and be prepared to alter course accordingly. We can’t become too fixed in time or place, but must continually adapt;
  5. Morality and ethics – whilst the “gamers” may have some short-term wins, in the long run, they lose. Your time on this planet is too short to not treat people the way you would want to be treated yourself. Empathy with others has a way of repaying you over time (think Karma bus). A strong sense of who you are is invaluable in times of crisis;
  6. Confidence and courage –these are closely aligned with a strong self of sense. It takes confidence and courage to follow your own path. These are traits that can be practiced and built upon.

I hope you have found the above information useful and will help you on your journey to a better life. If you have any feedback or want more information, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

“Yesterday was the last day of your past. Today is the first day of your future.”

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4 Responses

  1. Geri says:

    You have made very solid points about how the work force is evolving because of this pandemic. This whole situation has many people thinking about exactly how “non-essential” their jobs can be. You are also correct about how this is the time to develop new skills while getting focused and discipline. The 6 Critical Factors for Success is a great resource for everyone in this moment and time.

    • Thanks Geri,
      Situations like this are once in a century occurrences and it is inevitable that all of our lives will be recast.I believe the lockdown will fundamentally reshape the nature of office work for instance. It has to be a “back to basics” first. David Graeber’s book is a fascinating read and a real eye opener. Well worth a read. All the best to you moving forward.

  2. Rajith says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the highly useful article. I also believe that this pandemic will create so many new opportunities to entrepreneurs. Tips you share here will be very valuable.

    • Thanks Rajith,
      I do believe we can see this 2 ways – either as an end-of-the-world panic or as a period of great opportunity. Now that we are becoming accustomed to a very different world, I think we will start looking at things a little differently. I have always believed in self-determination – what you get comes from what you sow. All the best to you

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