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How do we keep our spirits up in a crisis?

Understanding a crisis helps us cope with it and avoid irretrievable losses. How can we remain optimistic when a crisis hits us hard?

Crisis identifying a phenomenon

Let’s take our own personal lives as a starting point.  At some point we all experience a period of crisis caused by as many different factors as there are human beings on this planet – a momentary difficulty, the loss of a loved one, a reluctant birthday celebration, the body or mind that calls us to order and drags us into illness, the questioning of an existence that we believed to be solidly anchored and stable. The health crisis we are undergoing is an acute example of current events. The word “crisis” comes from the Greek “krisis” meaning “decision, judgment”. The world is the stage for economic crises born out of geopolitical tensions or of a tipping point having been reached (over-confidence, deep socio-economic imbalances, bursting of financial bubbles). The triggers are varied. Some countries are already in recession, others will enter recession and this will create a climate of uncertainty and insecurity. What will tomorrow bring if a nation’s health state continues to deteriorate and, by extension, its economic state? A country in crisis rings alarm bells, just like for a person going through a difficult period. There are two alternatives, either to turn a deaf ear and not learn the lessons – with the risk of amplifying the temporarily delayed problem to the point of making it unmanageable once the grenade has been released – or to heed this warning, confine it and apply the necessary measures to curb it. Knowing that every crisis has a beginning, but also an end, gives us the opportunity to question ourselves, overcome our fears and surpass ourselves. More than ever, whenever a situation reaches a critical point due to a brutal external or internal change, the priority must be long-term thinking and action wherever possible and this thought-process must move from the inside out. In other words, the cursor or the angle of approach must change. This is achieved through the disciplined application of the instructions issued by our authorities as required by the gravity of the present situation.

Risks also mean opportunities – the crisis as a springboard

Against this backdrop, the business world is being severely tested by this ordeal currently engulfing the West – with its sudden and abrupt stops, budget cuts, restructuring and economic lay-offs – over-cautiousness is the immediate defensive reflex. “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future…” (Mark Twain). The watchword is usually to cut costs before deciding which strategy to adopt once the crisis is over. We should analyse the situation and the challenges objectively and realistically and then consider how to overcome the crisis with our strategies based on sound reflection. No more plain sailing, the storm clouds are gathering. So what course should we follow when the ground is collapsing beneath our feet? To do today what we would normally put off until tomorrow – take a step back, look at what constitutes the innovative strength of our company. It’s now or never that I should rethink my organisation so I can start again on a consolidated basis once this situation of intense stress is over. Let’s not hide the fact that this is an upheaval that is anything but pleasant because doubt and uncertainty have always been a source of anxiety. But, beyond the necessary questioning, we must see it perhaps as a salutary opportunity to reinvent ourselves.

The misfortune of some can also be the misfortune of others – this has never been truer than in this period of crisis.

All possible scenarios should now be evaluated. This will be the result of close cooperation between the Board of Directors and the company’s senior management. Next, it is important to assess the degree of probability of each scenario and the contingency measures to be applied consistently in the event that they materialize. The following questions raise a number of professional and private issues to consider:

– What values are important to you?

– If you had to keep only the essentials at the private and professional level, what would they be?

– How do you convey these in your products or services?

– Have you deviated from your original goals?

– Do you now need to reorient these objectives? If so, why?

– Is this crisis primarily internal or external?

– Do you feel a loss of control?

– If so, can you identify the gaps destabilizing your structure?

– What could you have done differently?

– What will you do differently after the crisis?

– How can you regain control of what you have undertaken?

– What lessons can you learn from this crisis relapse?

– What would be the risks and the impact of losses of various key elements (capital, customers, suppliers, employees)?

– What are you looking forward to once this period of crisis is over?

In these turbulent times let’s mobilize our energy and all our energies at all the different levels to overcome the coronavirus crisis that is hitting us. The Tradeo Team expresses its solidarity with and gratitude to the medical staff who are saving lives every day.