Sarah Cornally - Covid Will Change

Covid will change everything – or will it….?

There’s a trap with Covid and all the amazing positive responses that are happening. At the moment people are rallying and showing up the way you wish they would show up when there is a crisis and you see the best version of themselves at play. And yes, some things are likely to change forever as people’s beliefs and assumptions are busted, AND there can be a trap in that.

The rally and response to Covid is born – for the most part – out of reactivity. This is a gift in a crisis and one which will help you get through. It’s tempting to be thrilled and delighted with what you’ve achieved – ‘look at what we can do!’ – and think this marks a new era. But if it’s coming from a reactive, and not a creative frame, it may not be sustainable in the long term. One of the big mistakes people conceivably will make coming out of this crisis is to believe that this will change everyone and everything permanently – the reality is that people have heart attacks, nearly die and still don’t change their behavior…

What’s operating currently in many situations is enlightened self-interest. In other words, people realize on a subconscious level that if they’re selfish at this point it will be risky for them – it’s risky to be selfish in a society or collective in troubled times – so they have to be interested in the collective and do what will help the greater good for their own survival. The minute that the conditions that caused them to feel unsafe change, behavior can revert to old patterns.

At this point, whilst in the throes of firefighting our way through this crisis, what we can do is notice if our actions are being born out of reactivity (self-preservation), but also notice that when you put the greater good above yourself, things do go better. We can become conscious of what we did and what benefits it had and upgrade our mindsets. That embeds the benefits of what we have been experiencing and transforms it into real and substantial learning and sustainable change.

And later – not during the time that the fire hoses are going and there’s no bandwidth – but when things become manageable, there’s a need to have conversations with the people around you – the members of your team – to get clear about answering the following questions: What did we do? How do we do it? What difference did it make? What made it possible? What beliefs and assumptions were we running that made it possible? How do we apply those insights going forward?  How do we adopt these new ways of operating now the crisis has passed?

By making a deliberate effort to discover and learn from the answers to these questions it lays the foundations for long term and sustainable change needed for the emerging future.

Interestingly the primary purpose of a virus in nature is to provoke adaptation and evolution there is an inherent aspect that if you don’t adapt and evolve you will not survive. Better to learn, adapt and evolve to be ready for the emerging future.