How a Simple Change in Perspective Will Help You Evolve Out of the Pandemic Stronger
Guest writer: John Boitnott
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. An endless stream of challenges put us all to the test, and in many ways challenged our professional growth.
People’s experiences during this crisis have varied greatly, based on factors such as geographic location, occupation, and co-worker relationships. However, there’s no denying that this year has, quite frankly, sucked.
In response to the pandemic, we have generally adopted one of three mindsets in our professional lives: exile, hibernation, or evolution.
From taking clients out to lunch to engaging in day-to-day office chatter, the pandemic largely eliminated the social aspect of professional life. It's natural to feel like you’re in exile. The threat of a global pandemic absolutely can kick off your fight-or-flight response. It can instill fear and anger, and stifle your creativity. However, just because it feels natural doesn’t mean it’s productive. Relinquishing control of your daily emotional state to a primal emotion like fight-or-flight won't give you access to the tools you need to move forward. If you’re in an exile mindset — focused on everything you can’t do — you won’t be able to take advantage of what you can do.
Another pandemic-response mindset is to “hibernate” and just wait it out. Close your eyes, ignore issues you think you can’t change, and just do the minimum to get by. While blocking things out might make you feel better temporarily, it’s a passive approach that prevents you from learning and adapting. Hibernation is what the ostrich does when it buries its head in the sand. It might make you feel like things are quieting down, but the outside world doesn't stop just because you have stopped looking.
Exile and hibernation might seem like easy solutions,
but they both have some serious downsides
There is only one mindset that will help you come out of this pandemic more successful than you were when it began, and that is evolution. To evolve professionally is to let go of your current position and grow into something uncomfortable. Discomfort and adversity are inherent to success. Evolving is integral to professional growth in all fields, no matter the circumstances. To survive and thrive, we have to grow and change with the world around us (especially amid a pandemic). Evolution requires you to transcend your biology and avoid the fight-or-flight emotions that may keep you in exile or hibernation. This skill will set you up for success with career strategies that transcend COVID-19.
Evolution doesn't happen overnight. Unlike hibernation and exile, which come naturally in the wake of our circumstances, evolution is a conscious choice you must actively seek at all points in your career. To shift your mindset from exile or hibernation to evolution is an arduous task, but there is a tool that will make it easier.
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The Alchemical Transformation Framework of Synaptic Alchemy (or SA for short) is a simple, powerful tool you can use to create and foster an evolution mindset in your career. With three steps — Nigredo (destroy something), Albedo (create something), and Rubedo (standardize something) — you can develop career strategies that will bring you out of this pandemic, or any crisis, more innovative and efficient than ever before.
This is a step that may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the launch point for innovation. What Old Rule do you need to destroy? Destruction seems like a daunting first step, especially when you’ve experienced success in the past. However, if you think about it, you probably already know what isn't working in your professional life. That thing causes problems or inefficiencies in your day-to-day work life, and it needs to be destroyed.
That’s where you start: the situation or thought pattern specific to your profession that needs to change so that you can evolve. For instance, standardized test companies such as the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) had to destroy the notion that exams must be conducted in-person to be effectively proctored.
The adage “out with the old and in with the new” is wise advice, as it turns out. Whatever you destroyed in the Nigredo phase was there for a reason. Sure, it wasn’t working, but that’s precisely why efficient and effective solutions must be created to take its place. Ask yourself: what New Rule do you have to create to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever? As the LSAC adapted to an online format that allowed exams to be taken and proctored remotely, the shift required new technology, new test formats, and new scoring scales.
Nigredo and Albedo are about ideas, while Rubedo brings those ideas to life through implementation. This stage of the evolution process is where you bring your innovation from the realm of thought to concrete action. What has to scale? How can you make your innovation universal and accessible?
Not only did LSAC create a test that could be accessed and proctored from anywhere, but it also had to implement safeguards to prevent cheating and technological difficulties that might affect performance. By standardizing the experience of taking the Law School Admissions Test, LSAC created an exam even more universal and uniform than the in-person LSAT that preceded it.
Embracing the Synaptic Alchemy Alchemical Transformation Framework will help you reframe the way you think and empower you to seize opportunities both during and after the pandemic. Thinking in this way will help you let go of the exile and hibernation mindsets. It will push you to adopt evolution as both business practice and a lifestyle.