Last weekend, I was in an online conversation with a peer in the training and consulting business.
He asked me, “Do you think the industry would ever bounce back?”
“Bounce back”. That is one of buzzwords in our present locked-down world. It is an expression of hope – or of wishful thinking.
“Bounce back” means returning to where we were before – yes, prior to the pandemic. Well, the current view among a number of science experts is that the “old normal” is not just “old” – it is over.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had this to say:
“”If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Dr. Fauci said.
He underscore that, “ ultimately, the showstopper will obviously be a vaccine.”
My reply to my peer was, “why wait for the ‘bounce back’ when we can ‘bounce upward’ now?”
My reply was an attempt at the use of an analogy: that of the trampoline bounce.
The trampoline is a sports equipment used for competitions and for exercise to achieve physical fitness. Basic trampoline exercises feature the upward bounce. We can derive a lot of insight from that upward bounce.
The trampoline bounce requires the presence of three elements: strength, balance and impact.
The upward bounce require good leg strength. Strength is not enough. Using leg strength alone could throw you off the trampoline. The bounce requires a sense of balance – keeping your body straight without exerting too much effort to do so.
Then, there’s impact. Impact is where the feet meet the surface. Trampoline beginners start with slow, little bounces. They graduate to higher bounces and inject some acrobatics at the later stage.
An upward bounce in the lock-down era require our enterprises to possess and use the same three elements.
Our strength are our business resources, relationships and reputation.
The sense of balance come from the balance between Fear and Faith.
The Impact is our decision and resolve to face our current situation head on. It means using the present “adversity” to propel our businesses and enterprises to new and greater heights.
The “Upward Bounce” is an ability, an attitude and a strategy for life and business.
Let’s see how it works. Here was my recommendation to my peer in the training and consulting business that evening in our online conversation.
Begin with taking an inventory of your strength. Start with resources: your “cash” (liquidity), your capabilities and your character. You need just a little bit of cash to invest in online applications and, perhaps, some paid courses. Take stock of your capabilities and that of your team. These include skills and processes you have previously developed and which you can use in the migration of your business to the online platform.
Character refers to your “tensile strength” – your ability to absorb pressure and adversity without breaking.
Then, find your sense of balance. Begin by admitting and embracing your “fears”. “Fear” is not always bad – it is your response to perceived uncertainties and risks. Every prudent businessman considers risks.
Fear needs to be balanced with “Faith”. For others, this “faith” is spiritual in nature – holding on to the hand of a Higher Being. That helps salve “fear”. “Faith” is also pragmatic and practical – it means coaxing your brain to examine the “brighter side” of the “tough times”, and tapping the many opportunities hidden in the pallor of uncertainty.
The fact is there are many such opportunities. Many in the professional sector had not previously discovered them because they were stuck in the convenience of traditional, offline platforms.
“Fear” unbalanced by “Faith” could paralyze. “Faith” unbalanced by “Fear” could trigger a “let’s just wait for everything to bounce back” attitude. In both cases, the consequence is inaction.
As we said, “impact” happens when the object meets the surface and the contact causes the object – or person, in the case of the trampoline – to rebound.
In the context of business or enterprise, it means “plunging into the new market”. It means taking the bold step to present yourself and your products/services to a market that has previously been unfamiliar to you using a platform you are yet to master.
It means plunging into the market now. Not tomorrow, not next month, not when the enhanced community quarantine period is over.
It is this plunge and the impact of your contact with the market that opens the possibility of an upward and higher bounce for you and your enterprise.
The higher, upward bounce happens when you discover that the market in the “new normal” has long been waiting for you and your product. It happens when you discover that the market in the “new normal” is more than willing to make an investment to benefit from what you offer.
It is interesting to realize that the “old, traditional market” has also migrated to the digital platform.
Recently, three of my corporate clients emailed me to request that I schedule workshops postponed and which we were supposed to conduct for their executives before the lockdown period.
Those workshops were supposed to be done offline and onsite – in physical venues.
Now, they are requesting that we proceed with the workshops using online webinar applications.
They have decided not to wait for the “bounce back” before fulfilling their training requirements. They want the learning sessions done now, in the “new normal” using the digital platform. For both my clients and me, this is a “bounce upward” moment. We can rise higher right where we are today.