My inbox and social media have been a steady flow of suggestions from outside entities on what ‘now is a great time’ to do. I’ve seen the word ‘unprecedented’ misused an unprecedented number of times in the past three months. Evidently I should be sleeping more, learning how to exercise better at home, using extra time to focus on eating better, spending more time ‘mindfully’, rethinking my personal purpose, reading more, learning more from streaming content, watching less streaming content, being online less to keep from being flooded with bad takes, being online more to stay informed, being smarter about lighting and camera angles for video calls, being diligent about keeping boundaries between work and personal time at home, and the list goes on and on. It feels like many organizations are playing up the constraints of the current environment under the guise of improving me while actually just pulling me into their marketing machine. There is clearly a push to convince me I was radically deficient in many ways when this all happened, and I should take advantage of the situation to fix my flawed self with their assistance. If not for the very real and very sad health impact of the virus, I’m certain I would feel like I am trapped in a months-long infomercial where I need to buy now from operators standing by.
Anyone who knows me certainly knows I have plenty of flaws and areas where I can improve. Despite that fact, I’ve grown weary of this form of marketing in the past three months for two reasons. First, the part of me with a technical background would say the best course to fixing an issue involves changing one thing at a time, seeing if you get the desired result, and proceeding accordingly. If I were to invest the time and energy to adjust half of the things I’ve been told ‘now is a great time to’ fix over the past two months, I would have no way of knowing if any individual change was making me better or worse. I’d come out of the changes confused and likely even more flawed. Second, just because ‘now’ is a unique time, ‘now’ is not always the right time for personal changes; there are always things people should consider getting better at or doing differently, and they need to incorporate the changes at a pace they can manage.
If a person or organization’s willingness to focus on improvement is only triggered by global pandemic, their progress will be minimal and not sustained. It’s always a good time to consider change which makes a person or organization better; whether that means you’re improving while things are going great in your life or you’re improving during a difficult stretch. Do not let someone who has never talked to you about your current situation be overly influential about your need for change. Build a network of people and partners you trust to provide realistic and candid feedback to help you improve. Trust yourself with input from that network to adapt and improve through any set of circumstances, good or bad. Do not let the steady stream of messaging with calls for improvement drive you to believe you were doing poorly in every aspect of your life and you simply did not realize it until the world went into quarantine. You and your organization have likely sustained for years through innovation and a willingness to make changes to improve; those traits will continue to play well in any environment. Stay healthy.