NOW. Or The Time Of Opportunities
I will not go into the discourse of opportunities from an economic point of view, I will not cite ‘ the black swan’ as a cornerstone of a way of thinking about contemporary society in times of crisis, but I will suggest to the reader a vision of the opportunity from a human point of view, in clear contrast with the concept of opportunism, which with opportunities, at least in my short article, shares only the roots.
I will use the approach of two visionary leaders, one is Simon Senek, author of ‘start with a why’, commendable ‘motivational speaker’ that has led the internal marketing industry to reflect on WHY (why your company exists, why a consumer should choose you, why an employee should choose to work for you …).
The other is my spiritual guide Lama Michel Rimpoché, a young Brazilian from a (very) wealthy family who left the comfortable world at the age of 12 to retire to a monastery in India and walk the Buddhist path. Today Lama Michel is a ‘web star’ or Influencer, with about 1.4 million followers on Soundcloud, 63,000 subscribers to his Youtube channel , 11,200 monthly listeners on Spotify, over 9,200 followers on Facebook, 1250 followers on Twitter.
What do these two leaders have in common? Both have an enviable ability to translate complex concepts with simple words, through examples and anecdotes. Both are transparent, honest, say what they think, believe in what they say.
I will start with a provocation, which Simon Senek puts in these terms : Tell me the day you fell in love with your wife. It is an impossible question. There is no precise moment, it is a consequential series of facts, small gestures, in the long run. Being a leader is the same thing, it is putting constant effort every day. When you start a workout in the gym, as soon as you finish you look in the mirror and you don’t see any difference from when you started. And the second day is the same. But it is not because there is no immediate result that is not taking effect. In the medium term you will gradually see your silhouette change. But you have to deeply believe in it , and stay true to your initial goal.
This is what we call consistency .
It is not a question of ‘intensity’ but of consistency of your actions, and solidity of your beliefs.
That’s what’s missing in leadership today: take an intensive 2-day, 12-hour-a-day course with international speakers explaining how you become a leader, and at the end of 2 days you’re a leader. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Being a true leader means practicing every day, consistently. Put intention in every little gesture. Do, before getting done. Believe it, before making believe.
And that’s exactly what Master Lama Michel Rimpoché teaches. In this particular moment of our life, with an ongoing pandemic that has interrupted all daily habits and forced us to rethink our way of living, of working, of relating to others, we need to reorganize our time. And we are facing a great opportunity. But the opportunities are not necessarily taken, we often let them pass. The conditions of the present moment are given, we cannot determine them, we sin by hybris if we think we can shape reality, nature, the cosmos, to our liking (and we often commit this error of presumption). But the way we see and seize opportunities is a choice. Having time does not necessarily mean taking time. Often we complain about not having enough of it to be with those we love, to read a good book, to dedicate ourselves to our passions. A recurring phrase these days is “When it ends we will have to make up for lost time”: time is not lost and acquired, time is lived. Opportunities are lost. In a society where you run, run, run and you don’t know where you are going, when you are used to running, slowing down, stopping, seems difficult.
But the great opportunity that is given to us in this unexpected situation is to understand the fragility of life, to understand its preciousness.
And we come to the WHY of Simon Senek. Why do I run?
Let’s ask ourselves, what am I doing with my life?
If I could choose, what would I like to be, to become in this life?
The ongoing crisis is clearly highlighting the weaknesses of the System: from the a-human response of Christine Lagarde who, in the face of a human catastrophe, responds with the coldness of Homo Oeconomicus (because she has been programmed to think so), to the complaints to homeless who do not comply with the provisions of the #stayathome decree, who however have not been given an alternative, as the reception centers were closed during the day, up to the injustices for the working class, when workers are obliged to #goon, regardless of the necessity ( or non necessity) to keep the production on, and the freelancers who in a few days have seen many professional projects (on which large companies often rely) fade into nothing and who will receive a support of 500 euros per month for three months (extendable), in addition to a suspension of taxes.
We have reached the height of Individualism: I have to get what I want, when I want as I want. We live as if we are independent of each other. We don’t care about the community, we don’t think that contributing to the common good means doing good to ourselves, since we are part of that ‘common good’
Now I don’t want to close this article without promoting an alternative, to suggest an ‘action plan’ not only to face the present, but to plan the future.
Let’s plan your new time, and try to think that this will be the new model to which you will adapt in the future.
I wake up : take time to think, work out your goals. It does not mean reviewing the business plan, or doing housekeeping accounts. It means remembering The Why.
This exercise also applies to companies: Why did I decide to introduce this new product on the market? Because they suggested it from the marketing department. Why? Because they interrogated a sample of prospects. What have they been asked for? If they preferred product A or product B. Did you ask them what is important to them? What are their expectations, their dreams, their worries? Have you asked them what your company can do for them?
I feed myself . Choose how and with whom to exchange energy, choose where to get the energy, who deserves yours. You can choose to buy one product instead of another. Now you have the time to read the labels, to find out about the companies that market what everyday forms your individuality and what you vote for every day through your wallet.
Companies can also do the same: Who is at the end of the supply chain that produces my goods? Can I make sure that no one suffers, no abuse is committed, the environment is not compromised? Life is so fragile, no man, no woman – who holds an important position in the company, or who is a ‘simple’ employee in administration – should have the responsibility for an interrupted life, or an environmental disaster.
I enjoy Exercise (you can walk in the park, as long as you don’t create groups), read a fiction book, share optimism with your loved ones. Be careful of the voracity of information. And don’t ‘waste’ your time watching TV. It will not be the ‘opium of the people’ that will make this period less difficult. I see, with concern, the increase in commercial offers that push to ‘flood’ the mind with distracting contents. To occupy time. ‘
When we let time pass, we occupy time, it is wasted, it loses value.
Let’s bring the mind to focus on the present time (it is called mindfluness ). In this way time becomes precious, it takes value.
Companies can also practice this thinking about the present differently. Not concentrating all the investments in a short-term tactic, using their communication budgets to pass some marketing operations as highly supportive, when in reality it is pure looting. I have seen companies promoting the buy 2 pay one – but only for new customers (creating an opportunity for new business for themselves, and not an opportunity for the companies affected by the crisis), passing off for free services that were already on offer before the pandemic , use institutional platforms to launch services already provided for companies and citizens, in no way created to meet current needs.
Life is like a bubble at the bottom of the river, ready to burst at any moment (words of Master Lama Tsonkkapa ). We cannot continue to live our life in a disconnected driven consciousness.
Putting this Action Plan into practice will be a sacrifice and will not be pleasant in the beginning. But it will bring medium and long term benefits. And I’m not the one who’s saying this. I am only the message-bearer. I have been following for some time, with enormous effort, but with great satisfaction.
This is perhaps the meaning of New Humanism.
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