Possibility Thinking in a Pandemic Moment

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One silver lining that has remained consistent during the gloom of this COVID-19 crisis is the support I’ve received (and given) from friends and fellow business owners. One of those friends, whom I was checking in on last week, asked me how I was doing. I mentioned that where just a couple of weeks ago I felt only fear, I now have space in my brain and in my heart to think about the possibilities. I’m feeling more open, I told her, to the opportunities this time offers. She then shared with me the model below (source unknown).  

Source Unknown 

As someone who works in the field of organizational development, I couldn’t help but reflect on this model from both an individual and organizational perspective. I can confidently say that I have moved from the Fear Zone (for me this manifested as a shift to survival mode, where I was compulsively inward focused) into the Learning Zone (though I still have to monitor my consumption of COVID-19 news). Most recently I have both feet planted firmly in the Growth Zone. The passage of time has certainly played a role in my attitude shift. But that doesn’t paint a complete picture. I’ve lived long enough to understand the key role the mind plays in the evaluation of our life circumstances, and I’ve had to use whatever mind control I could muster to adopt a more opportunities-focused perspective. 

While others are immobilized by fear of what’s to come, how can I see this as an opportunity for growth? How can I expand my mind? And how can I use that new knowledge to adapt the way I view the world? I’m one who can easily get stuck in maintaining the status quo. There is nothing status quo about the current situation, so my response shouldn’t be either. (I acknowledge that my family and I are safe and I’m not worried about losing my home. That affords me the opportunity to be creative in my thinking.) 

But as a small business owner and leader, I am also reflecting on the implications for my team: how can we collectively understand and appreciate the growth opportunities this difficult time affords us? We know the importance of being an agile organization, ready to adapt to internal and external changes. We understand the role that I play as a leader, but as a small organization that lacks a lot of hierarchy, we believe that we all play a key leadership role in shaping our culture and services. And we help our clients understand and implement the key tenets of successful change management; certainly, we can internally reflect on how we might adapt to this “new normal.” It’s time to apply this collective knowledge to our own organization. 

It feels good to, once again, be looking at the world through the lens of possibility.