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Why 'rising up' is the true art of adapting in uncertain times

In part three of a new content series on adaptability during times of uncertainty, Emma Sue Prince discusses what we can learn from the current Covid-19 crisis and how we can rise out of the other side better equipped for challenges than we were before.

6th May 2020
Director Unimenta
Columnist
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Woman exercising on a staircase outside in the city.
iStock/Todor Tsvetkov

By now many of us will have spent weeks in a lockdown situation (though I prefer to call it a ‘stay-at-home retreat’). We will have worked out a way to work remotely, to educate our children at home and to look after our wellbeing. Hopefully we have also got better at focusing on what we can control and to let go of what we cannot.

We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay - and rise!
– Maya Angelou

This has also been and is a period for reflection, for weighing up some of the things we like about our lives and some of the things we might want to discard. For those of us who have lost businesses and livelihoods there will be a lot of questions about what to do next. Some of us will have experienced extreme loss and pain, and yet from all of this can still come growth.

We can develop new understandings of ourselves, the world we live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future we might have and a better understanding of how to live life. I know this because as a teenager I experienced extreme adversity when I lost my mother, who was killed in a drunk driving incident. This one event was pivotal in my life and challenged everything I knew and believed in.

In the same way, the Covid-19 crisis is also a pivotal and traumatic event for us all and is forcing us to question everything – from the way we do business and the way we work to the way we educate our children and the way we value our healthcare systems.

coronavirus hub

Time to rise

In this final look at adaptability, I want to ask one key thing: how are you going to choose to rise? What changes do you want to see in your own life and in your work? Most of the time, the future arrives gently. Despite the high speed of change we are so used to, we actually absorb its effects into our daily lives far more slowly, especially at work.

Changing anything in our lives or at work often gets deferred, until one day something happens and suddenly everything that was familiar is broken. At a stroke, all those fixes, ideas and experimenting with new ways of doing things that have been waiting on the sidelines get fast-tracked to the mainstream. We are in one of those exceptional moments.

Rising up is the true art of adapting.

Of course we still hope for everything to get back to normal as soon as possible. We especially want to put all the anxiety, fear, suffering and tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic behind us. That day will come, but the world afterwards will not be the same as before.

In adjusting to the new abnormal we are learning new habits and skills that we won't want to unlearn. It’s helpful to start reflecting on what these are. Ask yourself:

  • What am I learning from this whole situation that is going to be of value going forward?
  • What do I want to keep doing and what do I want to let go of?

Now is the time to have those conversations with our work teams, employees and co-workers, as well as with our families and with ourselves. Rising up is the true art of adapting. Those who are adaptable experiment and explore. They find opportunities where others might see failure. They are resourceful, curious and open-minded. All of these skills will have been sharpened during recent weeks. You are far more adaptable than you may think.

Interested in this topic? Read Critical thinking: why we need a clear head during the Coronavirus crisis.

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