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Adjust Your Thinking: Permanent or Continual Crisis

It’s the halftime adjustments that separate the good coaches from the great coaches.

—John Maxwell

In his August 12 podcast, author John Maxwell talked about game plans. He said in the world of sports, all coaches have a pregame plan to dictate the course of the game, but it’s a rare game that goes according to plan. The best and most successful coaches are the ones who make great halftime adjustments.

Many of us made game plans for 2020, both for our business and our personal lives. How did that work out? Not great.

Just like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, no one expected the novel coronavirus pandemic. No one expected an outpouring of pent-up emotion and nationwide protests for much-needed racial justice, no expected historic wildfires to rage along the West Coast, and no one expected historic flooding across the South and Gulf Coast. (We can talk about the very human inability to respond to long-term problems another time.)

Over the two-part podcast, John talked about four observations he has made about the situation and the adjustments we need to make in our thinking as leaders to survive and be successful. Of the four observations/adjustments, the first is, to me, foundational and the most critical. We need to quit hoping for a quick and easy solution—something I think we can all agree isn’t happening, especially as we enter the end of the year—and we need to adjust our thinking to permanent or continual crisis.

This crisis is going to be long and difficult (it’s already been long and difficult), and this is not the last crisis we’ll experience. This crisis is likely to be followed by another crisis because, as John said, the underlying problem is that we live in a society where we don’t value other people. Think about how divisive even simple decisions have become and the names used to refer to people on the other side of the issue. Societal polarization has stymied our ability to respond successfully to this crisis and will affect our response to future crises.

So how do we adjust to thinking in terms of permanent or continual crisis? How do we adapt to best serve our clients, our partners, our community, and our own ability to survive and thrive?

The Maxwell companies adjusted their thinking by first postponing events to the fall, then, as the pandemic did not resolve, moving to virtual events. We’re talking events like coaching certification training that incorporate thousands of attendees. Then came the big adjustment: All Maxwell events will have a virtual component from this point on. This was a major shift in their thinking and something they had resisted doing before because that just wasn’t how they did things. Virtual events have allowed them to help those who are unable to travel obtain their coaching certifications and to help foster a sense of community in a very uncertain time with far-flung coaches and other team members.

When the virus encroached on our territory, our team started working from home, and we signed up for a Zoom subscription for the business because we figured the free version wouldn’t cut it. We began to rely on Zoom, Slack, Discord, email, phone, and our blog to keep in touch with everyone. Our team is still mostly working from home all these months later, and we have become very proficient at Zoom meetings. I don’t see this changing soon, and in some ways, it’s better. Zoom meetings require no commute and can reach people far away, expanding our reach to clients outside our region. Why didn’t we implement this before? Because we weren’t in a crisis that forced us to adjust our thinking.

This coming year is going to be as challenging as last year. Don’t think that what happened will be easily and quickly resolved. I’m not being negative or pessimistic; this is real talk. So much of what happened in 2020 is going to reverberate for years to come. What have you done or what will you do to adjust your thinking to permanent or continual crisis and improve your chances for success long term?

If you’re interested in learning more about John Maxwell and leadership—and getting energized and inspired—check out his annual conference, Live2Lead. For the first time, L2L is being offered virtually. The speakers for 2020 include John Maxwell, Steve Harvey, Kat Cole, Alan Mulally, and Craig Groeschel. The original virtual conference was on October 9, but you can participate in Virtual Replays through our friends at Leadership Harbor until February 2021.

We'd like to thank Cris Trautner for her blog contribution! Cris is a partner in Infusionmedia, a design and marketing agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can read more of her work on marketing, writing, business, and productivity on the Infusionmedia blog.

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