Covid-19 is an unprecedented shock to economies and people around the world. Your concerns and fears are valid! These are crazy times of volatile change and eruptive disruption. There is technological disruption happening on one hand and Coronavirus(Covid-19 ) pandemic on the other. The call to disrupt yourself has never been more louder. Whether you are a business entity or an individual, it is critical to adapt and innovate to stay relevant in these turbulent economic climates. Reinventing one’s self is often a self-disruption process and I’ve written extensively about it in my book – Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses and people make is relying on what worked in the past, i.e they rely on their past success by doing the right thing for too long. It is easier to come up with new ideas but it’s even more difficult to let go of an old idea that worked well in the past. But the truth is what worked well in the past may not necessarily work well in future. 

As economic change accelerates, so must the pace of your own personal strategic renewal. The aim of this article is to ask questions that will trigger a sense of urgency for you to reinvent yourself in these disruptive times. The questions are as follows:

1.      Why is it Important to Disrupt Yourself?

Most people think of disruption only in relation to business. Disruption has always been linked only to new products or new business models that come into the market and disrupt the marketplace or industry but it is best and even safe to think of yourself as your own business enterprise so that you can use disruptive thinking and actions to thrive and flourish even in disruptive times. It is important to disrupt yourself and step into uncharted waters – or at the very least, set the wheels in motion.

The future belongs to those who have the courage to disrupt their own past successes. It belongs to those who can avoid the nostalgia to step into the unfamiliar and break the borders of their own comfort zone. You cannot innovate within your comfort zone.

During an economic crisis, those with a disruptive mindset can still create new value and a new market for themselves that did not exist before. Lockdown (quarantine) might have started with you being known as an Accountant or Travel Agent, but you can emerge out of lockdown as a digital marketer, a web developer, a content creator, a YouTuber or e-commerce business retailer. Of course, the transition will not be easy but if you do not disrupt yourself, someone else will do it for you.

The internet is a school on its own. What skills have you always admired or desired to have? You might just be a Google search away from learning it. The more things you try, the more skills you’ll learn and the more valuable you’ll become now and post Covid-19.

2.      Does Having a Job Today Equal Security?

Nowadays, we all know that having a job does not necessarily equal security. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there is technological disruption happening on one hand and Coronavirus(Covid-19 ) pandemic on the other. With technology, it is not just businesses that are getting disrupted but also many long-revered careers.

3D printing is threatening millions of manufacturing jobs across the globe. Robots, autonomous vehicles and drones are displacing tens of millions of workers around the world.

Founder and chairman of World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab compares Detroit in 1990 with Silicon Valley in 2014. He said, in 1990 the three biggest companies in Detroit had a market capitalisation of $36 billion, revenues of $250 billion and 1.2 million employees. But In 2014, the three biggest companies in Silicon Valley had a considerably higher market capitalisation amounting to $1.09 trillion, generated roughly the same revenues ($247 billion) but with only about 137,000 employees, that’s about 10 times fewer employees.

These statistics are scary and yet, a devastating crisis like the coronavirus pandemic was not even in the picture at the time.

  • McKinsey warns of a coronavirus jobs bloodbath across Africa. “More than 150-million jobs out of the continent’s 450-million are at risk”
  • BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Unemployment in Europe could double in the coming months, with up to 59 million jobs at risk from permanent cutbacks as well as reductions in pay and hours because of the coronavirus pandemic, estimates from consultancy McKinsey said.
  • According to Morning Edition, “The number of people forced out of work in the USA due to coronavirus lockdown continues to soar to historic highs, bringing the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That’s more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession.”

With these statistics, it is important that you do not sit back and relax simply because you currently have a job.

3.      Who are YOU if Your Job is Stripped Away?

Are you defined by your job title? Is your identity tied to your career? If you are your job then who are you if that job is stripped away? It is now more crucial than ever to define yourself outside your job. For many people, they have no life, no purpose and no reason to live if their job is taken away. And yet for others, they feel lost, as though their identity has been stripped away and all they are left with is a name tag – a lawyer, a teacher, a nurse, a doctor, a manager, a supervisor, etc.

In my book, Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupt, I asked this all-important question. Who are YOU? Many people dread this question. Some choose to live in the shadows while others choose to do what they think is right to be most accepted by their peers. But who are you? Seriously, this is one of life’s most important questions. What usually bubble up as answers are the labels that society and culture have piled on us, like: wife, mother, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, etc. But these are just labels similar to the titles we use when people ask about us and we start describing ourselves by what we do. E.g, I am an Engineer, a Manager, an Accountant, a Doctor, a Teacher, a Nurse, etc. But is that really who you are?

Your job is not your life. It’s only a means to live your life. Your job is what you do, not who you are as a person. A job is not indicative of a person’s kindness, intelligence, bravery or character. One of the lessons Covid-19 is teaching us is that we need to start defining ourselves outside our earnings, outside our work, fancy buildings, nice cars, etc. Right now, none of that really matters. 

Covid-19 is exposing everything and everyone. Aren’t you tired of living in the shadows? Do you have the courage to ask the person in the mirror: Who are YOU? Real freedom lies in knowing yourself beyond your job title!

Who are you? Usually, when faced with this question hundreds of thoughts run through the mind. ‘Should I say my name? Should I refer to what I do for a living? Or the family I come from?’ But the real answer to this question can only be unearthed through self-discovery. Self-discovery is the hunt to find the treasure buried deep inside you. It is the process of getting to know who you really are and not who you’ve been told you are and certainly not what your certificate or job title says you are. To truly answer this question, you need to look deep within yourself to discover things about you that make you unique, different, and special.

As American essayist and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’

4.      What if your Job or Business does not Survive Covid-19?

For those of you who have read my story, you know that I got laid off in 2016. To say being laid off was one of the worst experiences I have ever had would be an understatement. As a single Mom, I was shattered into a million pieces! Up to that point, my identity, my plans and my children’s future were all wrapped up in my job and it was stripped away in an instant., But in spite of this major upheaval, I learned to thrive. I created Nicky Verd! Something that’s uniquely me.

I have come to know that it is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow but because of them. And so, I don’t always speak or write about the promises of what the corporate world, or the government or anyone else can do for you but about what YOU can do for yourself to effect the changes necessary to your specific circumstances. These are disruptive times, do not wait for your company to upskill you. Do not wait on government to bail you out. Be proactive! Do something outside the norm. Perhaps it’s time to learn a skill outside your academic qualification or consider a business outside your current industry.

As Deepak Chopra, author and public speaker, said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” As devastating as this pandemic is, Covid-19 might just be the kick in the teeth that we all needed to change the trajectory of some of our careers and businesses. 

Covid-19 is forcing everyone to reinvent and think outside the box. Many are thinking outside the building and even outside their industry:

  • Factories that used to make perfumes, T-shirts, and other non-medical things are now making hand sanitizers, face mask to fight coronavirus
  • According to CNBC, “Zoom shares drop 6% as Facebook rolls out free video calls for up to 50 people”
  • Automakers like Ford, GM, Tesla, Ferrari and even Rolls Royce are now adjusting their factories to producing ventilators and other hospital supplies to fight this pandemic. 

Its survival of the fittest! Innovate or die! And so, sticking only to what you are familiar with is a strategic blunder that can get you killed and kicked out of the game in these disruptive times.

5.      Are Counting your Bananas?

Do you have enough cash or access to cash to make it through Covid-19? The answer to this question is critical as no one can predict how long this crisis will last. Now is the time to get a clear view of your overheads and spending habits. As Hope Taitz puts it, “We are in a pandemic and survival is staying healthy, staying at home, staying afloat and understanding every expense down to the last banana.”

Many have lost their jobs. Many have their working hours reduced and salaries cut down. Many businesses are being forced to shut down leaving those who depend on the daily hustle with no source of income. Some are now relying on their savings and some have no savings at all. But whatever your situation is, it is still important to count your bananas. You can check how much you actually have in cash or cash equivalents and double down on every resource available to you.

Whether you are a business entity or just an individual, another critical question to ask yourself is what percentage of your income comes from online activities? Is e-commerce something you are considering? What investments are you making during these disruptive times? What costs are you cutting to stay afloat? Are you giving yourself enough ammunition to get through these trying times and beyond? Or are you simply going to go bananas?

Which of these questions resonate best with you?

Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted!

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