What If Things Never Really Get Back to Normal?

I’ve been going about this pandemic all wrong

“What if things never get back to normal?” I heard this question a few days ago. It astonished me. It’s a simple question. It may not sound particularly original. But until I heard it, I had not honestly considered the possibility that ‘normal’ might be gone for good.

How do I need to change if all of the old ways of doing things are gone forever?

I think of myself as highly adaptable and more accepting of change than most people. The truth is that I have some work to do.

When this pandemic broke loose in March, I saw no chance that we’d still be dealing with business closures and social distancing in August. Like everyone else, I’ve gone along with the restrictions and changes. My mentality was to hunker down and get through it. Things will get back to normal soon enough.

Will they? Where I sit in the Los Angeles area, it’s not so obvious they will anymore. There are still wide business closures. My daughter’s school is distance learning for the Fall. And there’s been no hint that I’ll be allowed back in the office yet.

The defiant part of me wants to push forward as if nothing changed. But that is the wrong way to go about it and it needs to stop.

I have shortchanged my personal growth by seeing this pandemic as a placeholder for something better.

Don’t get me wrong, I do just as many Zoom calls as anyone else. I’ve maintained an optimistic attitude and have done my best to shift my business into the virtual realm. Until I can get back in front of people again.

See the problem in that last sentence? I accepted change; but only temporarily. I haven’t truly embraced it.

Starting today, I’m fixing these errors in my thinking.

I will embrace the new way of doing things; not just accept them.

Here are three immediate changes I’m making following my epiphany.

Embrace Virtual Meetings

From the beginning of the stay at home orders in March, I understood that virtual meetings were going to be essential to my ability to conduct business. So I have had many virtual meetings; WebEx, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and others. Any person reading this has numerous virtual meetings I am sure.

The problem has been my attitude. I have viewed these interactions as poor substitutes for the ‘real meetings’ which need to be face to face. I learned how to use them well enough to conduct the meeting and no more.

Going forward, commit to master the use of virtual meetings. They are real meetings and how we do things now. Stop thinking about how they’re not the same as face to face meetings. They might even be better. Regardless, we’re not going back so let’s master the virtual meeting.

Redesign Client Service Delivery

The way that I deliver service to clients needs to change. My model has been predicated on high-touch service for years. I don’t have to stop delivering hands-on coaching and advice.

The format needs to be modified in order to accommodate the virtual tools we use. Communication cues that are available when I’m in the room with someone oftentimes aren’t available in the virtual setting. Communication styles need to change for clients to get maximum benefit.

I’m reworking my structure and process to better communicate with clients in the new paradigm. I’ll no longer just try to graft my old way of doing things on to the vine of the new. The structure, content, and flow needs to reflect a different style of communication.

Widen My Geographic Focus

I do have clients who are geographically far from me. I have done virtual meetings with them for years. The reason I have them as clients, though, is that they were once much closer. They moved away. Since the pandemic has forced us to accept an entirely new way of doing things, it’s up to us to figure out how to turn the change into opportunity.

And this is a huge one for me.

Going forward, I’m emphasizing virtual meetings and a client service delivery model that doesn’t require face to face contact. Why do I need to limit my geographical focus to my area? With a mastery of conducting virtual meetings and a high-value service model appropriate to distance, I can serve clients anywhere in the US.

This is going to radically change the way I seek and attract new clients. It opens up so many efficiencies I had not previously considered.

Change is a beautiful thing.

There are all kinds of ingenious adaptations businesses are making during this pandemic. I marvel at all of the innovation taking place. Admittedly, I’ve been slow to come around; I thought I was adapting well. I had only changed in the ways the environment forced me to change. Anyone can do that.

The key is to embrace the change. Recognize that things may never go back to the way they were before.

What if not going back is a good thing?

I’m slow but I come around eventually. And I’m excited to add to the list I started.

I’ve already found so many new opportunities.

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©2020 by Brent Rupnow, CEPA, CFP, CLU, ChFC