Country Manager SparkOptimus Switzerland
When I think of self-healing I visualise warm yellow, the colour of the rising sun, the colour of bright shining light, & also the colour of the smiley at my front door.
When the Covid-19 crisis became real in Europe, I was overwhelmed with uncertainty. My parents (aged 71 and 80) were suddenly part of the at-risk group and living in Belgium. I was unable to visit them, nor was I able to support them or comfort them the way I would have wanted to. Above all, I was deeply concerned for their health. I ended up feeling disconnected from my family, my friends, my grounding, both in Switzerland and my homeland (Belgium). Also, in my business environment, leading a digital consulting firm in Switzerland (SparkOptimus), focusing on making digital disruption & transformation work for multi-national companies, overwhelming uncertainty struck me. Though it became obvious that any company who was not online or digitally transformed yet, was now clearly missing out, many companies shifted from top-line focus to bottom-line focus, with consulting budgets for digital transformation put on hold.
Covid-19, being the first mass-crisis and mass-trauma, I have lived through, didn’t surprise me so much in the challenges it brought along. It surprised me in the way individuals, businesses, societies, dealt with the situation at hand, and the speed at which we adapted ourselves to this new reality. Employees proved their employers wrong, and showed they could deliver the same performance working remote versus being everyday physically present at the office. Pharmaceutical companies showed it was possible to develop a functioning vaccine in record time, through the right allocation of budget and effort. Societies understood in no time, how important it was to collectively take care of each other, also when you were not part of a risk group. And, though we’ve been accustomed to hear democracies are incapable of making big changes fast, here we are.
Every crisis comes with radical change, and the effects of this pandemic will linger on societies for a long time. The way we see ourselves, others, and the world, has been turned upside down. We need to heal and re-grow a positive mindset. In doing so, I truly believe we are all in the driver’s seat, and we are all ‘captains of our own happiness’. Based on the book, ‘Tiny Habits’ by BJ Fogg, I’ve started to introduce new habits into my personal life to manifest a positive mindset. Every morning, I perform the famous ‘Maui Habit’. As soon as my feet touch the ground getting out of bed, I say to myself ‘it is going to be a great day’. It sounds silly at first, but performing this tiny new habit, makes me start my day on a positive note, even when I know it is going to get tough. Little ‘seeds of positivity’ like that, you carry through your day, and they become the accelerator for many other positive things & small successes happening that day. When we feel successful, we feel good, and when we feel good, we conquer the world.
In my business environment, I realised – more than ever – we are all human beings. As we shifted to the virtual world, I got a sneak peek into the private lives of my colleagues as well as my clients: I got to see many kitchens, living rooms, and home-offices (tidy and untidy), and many small kids appearing on the screen, demanding sudden attention from their parents in the background. Surprisingly, these settings, trigged much more personal interactions with everyone I was working with. We’d share the joint pain of the pandemic, and talk about different ways and solutions we had come up with to deal with the challenges at hand. Conversations were no longer ‘just business’ or ‘just work’, they became a source of inspiration beyond work, and collective healing. These enriched interactions led to more connectedness, more meaningful (business) relationships, and much better results. So, don’t be afraid to get personal, you’ll be surprised with the positive impact you’ll create.
I think every crisis shapes history, and there are always two ways of looking at how a sudden crisis will unfold itself over time: optimistic or pessimistic. Personally, I’m always on the optimistic side and try to share my optimistic mindset with whomever I meet. I strongly believe that in this crisis we have learned a lot, we have become stronger, and there has never been more room for change. We have shifted our lifestyles, with many people eventually finding themselves happier, in a new hybrid working model. We have discovered the power of shared emotion, which has led to more solidarity, more caring about each other, and many heart-warming initiatives, such as home delivery networks to deliver groceries to people who could not get out to do it themselves. We have become more sustainable, with less air traffic & road traffic, leading to less pollution. We have learned to collaborate and find solutions on a global scale. In my eyes, the list of positive change is long, and I really believe, if we manage to practice what we’ve learnt and make it part of our ‘business as usual’, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to jointly design for a better and more humane future.
Again, I think the crisis has taught us a lot, and I think we all carry a responsibility to ensure those lessons get translated into lasting & durable change. Many people I meet feel that, in order to achieve this, we need big bang projects and huge investments. I’m a fan of starting small, as I believe real impact starts with small actions – testing, learning, and adapting as we go. Reviving connectedness, and making a step towards exploring how we can build a better future together starts with being open, being curious, and showing interest in finding out what your customers, your employees, your people, your environment thinks, feels, and finds important. In my own business environment, we are currently figuring out what our employees really want and need in terms of the new hybrid-working standards. On the other hand, we have helped many of our clients to, step-by-step, step up their online game, as they learned that many of their customers actually do like to order certain products online, get them delivered to their doorstep, and preferably on the same day. Figuring out what matters and what makes people’s lives better, through leveraging what we’ve learnt, listening, and creating an understanding of your environment, is for me the ‘crux’ of shaping a better future together after the pandemic.
The world will keep on spinning. Be positive, full-hearted, make the best out of every situation, and enjoy the ride!
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