It is an obvious statement to say these times we are in during the COVID-19 pandemic are presenting us all with some unique and challenging circumstances. It seems like the whole world is shut down, and you are not totally wrong for thinking that. In a matter of weeks, in some cases days, business saw their entire revenue stream dry up like a raindrop falling on the hot Georgia pavement. This naturally, and understandably, put all of us into survival mode. The body’s and brain’s natural instinct is “fight or flight”. We can’t seem to fight a mandatory shut down order so we run and hide. We cut our expenses to as close to zero as we can, we circle the wagons, and wait for the cavalry to arrive.
But on the surface, this pandemic is really no different than a long list of other challenges businesses have face over the past century. Some more serious than others (the Great Depression for instance) but all still having something in common. Through every one of the financial “disasters” life eventually returned to normal. And not only returned to normal, but was better than before the “disaster” occurred — the “boomerang effect”.
Now, the term boomerang effect is already coined in a lot of different realms, psychology, marketing, business in general, even Instagram has a boomerang effect. So this is not really an attempt to rewrite the definition, I am only using it for illustration here. But the fact remains, every time a crisis threw that boomerang (the economy) it always came right back! Sometimes it was thrown a little harder than others and took a little longer, but it came back all the same.
So, ask yourself this, what are you doing to get ready to catch that boomerang when it does come back? As I said before, yes, it is natural to want to circle the wagons. Defensive postures are a very natural reaction to external attack. But, Sun Tzu said “attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack”, in other words the old adage, “the best defense in an aggressive offense.” We have all heard this and we all believe it to be true but if you are circling your wagons, you are not on the offense, you are totally defensive.
The businesses that will truly capitalize on the boomerang coming back are the ones who are forward-thinking during this crisis. They are the ones coming up with plans now and are ready to jump the second the boomerang comes into sight. Finding and investing in low-cost training, solutions, or platforms to problems they may have identified before the shutdown. They decrease their feelings of being powerless by taking back power through action. Inaction increases cortisol (the stress hormone) but action increases oxytocin (the “feel good” hormone.) To use the wagon analogy again, they are just not sitting in the wagon circle, they are sending out scouts and coming up with a plan. What is your plan? What are you going to do to be ready for this all to end? When you see the boomerang, will you then start to try and think of your next steps, or will you already have forward momentum on your side?
Eric Zdanowicz, MBA, is a business owner of two businesses (Millennial Center of Excellence, LLC and CFS Atlanta South), consultant, and a retired US Air Force veteran with almost 40 years of leadership experience. Eric lives in the Middle Georgia Area. For questions, feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org