Growing your business can be like riding a series of waves, some mere ripples and others so titanic they threaten to send you down to Davy Jones’ Locker. However, if you build resilience you can weather any storm and thrive in the New Norm of the post-pandemic waters.
Garrett McNamara, surfer and star of HBO’s documentary series The 100 Foot Wave, is undaunted by the power of the sea. Preparing to take on some of the biggest waves on the planet in the small Portuguese town of Nazare, he tells the interviewer: ‘Everything is possible.’ It is a mantra that many entrepreneurs understand well as they, like McNamara, tackle problems head on and launch their ideas undaunted by the obstacles or waves on the horizon.
The past two years have seen the business equivalent of the 100 Foot Wave. With little warning the pandemic took over businesses, livelihoods and life as we knew it, and we are still feeling the effects of its powerful ripples today.
As we struggled to survive and ride this gigantic wave, there was much talk of living with a ‘new normal’. We learnt many things about ourselves, our communities, our companies and how the world can change in an instant.
‘Normal’ is something that we humans crave – there is both safety and familiarity in patterns, in the small regular waves of what are considered to be ‘the norm’. In life and business, we use them to guide what we do and how we grow but it can make us complacent in our approach to challenges.
Landlubbers and the risk averse find high rollers too much, but perhaps like McNamara we should learn to prepare for anything and embrace a new kind of New Norm, where we train ourselves to anticipate the waves and ride them accordingly, helping us to anticipate the patterns of the future.
According to the Boston Consulting Group it was companies that did just that which have survived and thrived on the disruption of Covid. Many were already in the process of transformation to improve their performance and therefore could quickly adapt and use the pandemic as a reason to accelerate change. These firms were already seeking out new obstacles, adapting and working out how to make the most of them. As I also learnt from Specsavers founder, Doug Perkins, recognising that growth is a series of waves – some big, some small – can help you become more resilient to future challenges and be able to ride the unexpected 100-foot waves as well as the ones you create yourself.
Of course, you can’t just fling yourself on a metaphorical surf board and expect to ride an A-frame on your first day out. Successful business surfing – like McNamara’s Herculean adventure – requires research, strategy, opportunity, agility and the right kind of support and culture in your community. If you can understand the storms that might come your way and clear the obstacles that have blocked your path in the past, then your vision will become clearer, your ability to ride the waves stronger and the value and resilience of your company more robust.
So next time you fancy taking an easier route through windless waters, remember that sailors of old called them the ‘doldrums’. Considered a source of great irritation and danger it’s no surprise that doldrums passed into common parlance, meaning a period of depression or stagnation. As Patrick Swayze says in his role as Bodhi in that other great surfing movie, Point Break: “Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”
Time to strap on those arm bands and dip a toe in the water – it’s time to set a new course and chart your own New Norm.
When we look at why the companies covered in the Boston Consulting Group’s article thrived, we can see that the common thread lay in them all being in a state of transformation before Covid. They were already in a change process, preparing for a new era of growth to rescue them from poor performance. They had cleared the space of what no longer served them, to leave space for what really mattered, allowing it to work harder. What they already knew before Covid was who they were, which installed confidence in everybody who was creating the value – and this included investors. Being comfortable in ‘The Norm’ meant that for many it took a long time to wake up until the Covid struck, whilst those companies who were already transforming, thrived.
Join Julie for a virtual coffee
If you feel like you are stuck in calm waters hiding from the waves, feel free to contact me for a virtual coffee to discuss how you and your company can build the resilience to open up new opportunities ready to thrive in the post-Covid world.