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COVID 19 – Crisis or An Opportunity; It is our Choice

by Vikas Chawla

The Covid-19 crisis, which is affecting us here in India, and across the world, is having profound
impacts upon everyday life, organizations, economies and political communities in unprecedented ways. A crisis
like this disrupt lives, bring hardship and even tragedy. In India, and throughout much of the rest of the world,
businesses have shut down, schools are closed, and governments have restricted activities to only “essential
services”.

Personally, during this crisis the need to distinguish what is “essential” from what is “non-essential”
presents us with an opportunity. It allows us to discover, that some of the non-essentials are, in fact, luxuries.
They include things we might like to do, or have if we already have all the essential bases covered and have
time and money to spare. In good times, we can convince ourselves that luxuries are necessities and we can
find ourselves worrying about things that emergencies expose as not as important as we had thought. Crisis
gives us an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate our lives, to ask ourselves what truly matters and what
does not, and to refocus our attention and reorder our lives according to what gives our lives genuine meaning
and purpose.

Professionally, crisis acts as the forcing mechanism to compel speedy innovation, leading to problem-solving and advances in technology, policies and procedures. Organizations and employees are compelled to
think out of box pushing themselves out of their comfort zones which helps to build a culture of long-term
sustainability. The measures taken to survive and eventually end a crisis often makes an organization stronger
and more resilient for future events. Such a crisis increases resilience for the next event and people are prepared
to handle it in a much-structured way. Acceptability of change during crisis increases as multiple interests have
a way of pulling together diverse sections of people to solve the crisis. A crisis has a way of letting the cream
rise to the top. During a crisis, those with the right skill sets and talent even if they are not the identified
leaders or top performers have a way of rising to meet the challenge, creating a dynamic that enables the
entire team or group to grow closer and work better together.

In Chinese, the word CRISIS is composed of two characters one represents “Danger” and one
represents “Opportunity”. It is totally up to us how do we see it. I once read an appropriate interpretation of
word CRISIS which is a food for thought for all of you:

Create an opportunity to maintain/strengthen relationships with stakeholders;
Respect and validate stakeholder feelings/sentiment towards the incident and the organization;
Initiate corrective actions and behaviours to right wrongs and ensure such an incident never happens again;
Stay true to words spoken and promises made;
Instil a corporate culture that focuses on trust-building and effective issues management; and
Sustain business and reputation by learning from mistakes made and continuing to put stakeholders first and foremost.

It is up to us how we would like to approach the crisis. When things are tough, we tend to focus on the
problems. Focusing on problems, makes them grow, and if we don’t do anything about them, we become
unhappy, frustrated and pessimistic. If we maintain a positive attitude, believe that there is a solution, and
keep looking for it, we will ultimately find it. It is the positive mindset that will ultimately make the difference.

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