“There are decades where nothing happens and then there are weeks in which decades happen.” I came across this saying some time ago; it certainly fits like a glove to these Covid-times we are in. Bill Gates in his introduction to the ‘Goalkeepers Report 2020’ said that 25 years of development has been wiped out in 25 weeks. He called what we are facing “mutually exacerbating catastrophes.”
Truly, the world suddenly seems to have gone crazy, placing enormous demands on the mindset and mental make-up of the entrepreneur –in terms of coping and hoping, and especially looking for new opportunities – like the social enterprise working with women artisans who pivoted their production line to making masks, face shields and PPE - that could emerge from the pandemic. If ever there was a VUCA time, this is it: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. A healthcare crisis turned into an economic crisis, which then snowballed into a humanitarian crisis. Entire industries like aviation, hospitality, sports, entertainment and tourism have been particularly dealt a huge body blow. The cost of Covid-19 to the economy is expected to be many trillions of dollars, adversely impacting hundreds of millions of jobs, and globally, as per the World Bank, over 150 million people are likely to fall into extreme poverty because of the impact of the pandemic. If ever there was a time to hold one’s nerve and not lose one’s mind it is NOW.
Mental make-up, mental toughness and mindset come to the fore. These make or break a leader, an entrepreneur or just about anyone dealing with myriad issues that a crisis like the ongoing pandemic can cause both in one’s professional and personal life. And dealing with such situations is nothing short of heroic. But admitting one is struggling and needs help doesn’t make one any less heroic. In fact, honest introspection, sharing of vulnerability or altering one’s course are certainly signs of greater, rather than lesser, mental resilience.
It is this aspect of mental strength and health and the importance of positive leadership mindsets that we focus on in this issue of CLUED-iN as we launch into 2021. We are delighted to bring to you a virtual smörgåsbord of enriching, energizing and highly nourishing articles from probably some of the world’s most well-known and highly regarded leaders in the non-profit and social enterprise sector, which I am sure will help us to ‘Hit Refresh,’ as per the famous title by Satya Nadella, and enter into 2021 in the right frame of mind.
Jacqueline Novogratz, Caroline Ashley, Alex Counts, Rajiv Sharma, Rajen Makhijani and many others contribute to this issue – all giants of the impact sector. They share with us their insights and experiences drawn from years of working in the inclusion space, and more importantly, working through multiples crises and mind-numbing growth phases and downturns.
Alex Counts hits the nail on the head when he challenges us to “rethink failure” and “create a culture that encourages open debate and dissent” and moves us towards a “win-win” approach, while Caroline Ashley CH.A.R.M.’s her way into our hearts but more importantly into our minds and psyche as she lays out her formula for social entrepreneurs / inclusion evangelists to (ch)arm themselves.
Rajen Makhijani gives us some wonderful leadership perspectives, while we hear firsthand from the stellar social entrepreneur Rajiv Sharma, who gives us a cockpit view of navigating the various headwinds that hit social enterprises.
Jacqueline Novogratz, in her characteristically unique and compassionately direct style (only she can manage that incredible combination), encourages us to unpack the one area we often choose to pretend doesn’t exist – morality; and with her incredibly lucid writing style introduces us to the aspect of ‘moral imagination’ which deeply impacts the very core of our work.
Our mental strength gives us the ability to perceive and deal with negative situations – especially failure, crises and loss.
Let me end by giving you an example that came to my mind when I was spending some time in personal reflections and prayer at the end of 2020:
How can something so tiny, seen first in an olfactory-assaulting (ok, ok smelly) environment of animals, in a small town, create such an impact the world over, impacting every sphere of our lives, our very existence?
Reading the paragraph above you could think I am writing about the coronavirus. Or you could be thinking I am writing about the tiny baby born in a cattle-shed the first Christmas.
Gotcha! It’s about perspective.
I am sure the articles in this issue will give you many tools, ideas and insights to be able to challenge the status quo and, more importantly, challenge yourself. Don’t despair if you think you need to change your business model or if your business is too small. It’s the effect that it has on the lives of people that matters. Scale will come if you want it to; if you focus on what’s important, and if the customers keep coming back. But in each of these aspects you have to stay strong – physically, emotionally and above all mentally.
Stay safe, stay well, stay positive (no pun intended this time)! Happy 2021.