Like many of you, we’re feeling distraught by the news of the Russian invasion into Ukraine—yet also, moved and inspired by the acts of courage and resistance by people on both sides.
Some of us may have already experienced war or other catastrophes in our lifetimes, or perhaps your parents or grandparents did. Others are lucky enough to have only known peace, prosperity, and stability.
Regardless of these differences, we find ourselves now in a moment where the whole world order seems in peril. We’re being tested again and again—facing unrest, pandemics, wars, threats to democracy—and honestly, it feels overwhelming and hopeless a lot of the time.
The Human Experience
Despite all this, it’s also… normal.
You probably didn’t expect us to say that, but here’s why: what is not normal is expecting things to continue without disruption or crisis.
If we look back at our ancestors, we see this is true. No matter who we are or where we’ve come from, it’s all some version of the same story: Fled violence and poverty, started a new life, then died in the war; Started a business, and then lost it all in the Depression; Married a childhood sweetheart and then lost him or her to cancer or polio or mental illness.
Up and down, gained it and then lost it.
This has always been the human experience: tragedy and redemption, loss and resilience. It’s sobering. And yet as leaders, it’s also an important reality to reflect on.
Just as in life, what we’ve gotten used to in our business is not guaranteed. We’ll never be free from crisis or massive disruption—it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
Because of this, good leaders must always be prepared for what could happen to disrupt the flow of things, be it an external crisis like a global pandemic or an internal disruption like corporate lawsuits and anything in between.
Here’s a few thoughts to reflect on or ask yourself:
- Identify potential crises and ask yourself how you/your company is prepared to handle them.
- What do you take for granted today that you would miss if it was gone? How would you manage if that thing/person/situation was no longer available to you?
- How prepared are you to handle a crisis or do without? What steps can you take now to become better prepared for a potential future crisis?
- How would you protect and care for not only your business but your employees and stakeholders? Business aside, how will you plan to consider the human factor of your teams in the face of disruption?
When uncertainty and ambiguity is high, people look to their leaders for direction—so perhaps most importantly, the message is this: be good to each other. In business and in life, be grateful for what you have and do what you can to help others, in whatever ways you can.
We’re all in this together.