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Nitish Mukherjee

The author is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion

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Dark Roast Double Shot: Navigating Disruption

Be it a disruption in our professional lives or personal the questions are similar. The pain and anxiety are alike. The sense of vulnerability congenerous.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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April 2020, Delhi. The sky was clear and the sun was up. It promised to be a pleasant day. I put on the coffee machine to pour out a double shot of dark roast. Picked up the morning newspapers, tucked them under my arm, collected the coffee mug and took the elevator up to the terrace. As the doors opened and I stepped out, the blue sky of my childhood years and the warmth of the comforting sun greeted me. But yet, as I walked to the bench there was a tingling sensation in my spine as if it sensed a message in the eerie silence that seemed to cling to everything. In the still air where nothing moved even the frangipanis with their beautiful flowers scattered around the terrace seemed like sentinels to the symphony of silence that played out over the landscape for miles and beyond. I looked up to see a lone eagle gracefully circling, searching for signs of motion that would scatter the quietude. I peered over the balustrade and far below the dogs lay curled up in the middle of the street, probably dreaming of the joy of barking at passing vehicles and running after the schoolkids as pleasures of a bygone era.

As I sat down on the bench to sip the hot brew the hush outside contrasted sharply with the clamouring inside my head. A million thoughts bounced around boisterously seeking attention and threatening eternal damnation if disregarded. I hadn’t spoken to my son for two days now. Last that I heard his city was going in to a lockdown and the shelves in the stores were emptying fast. I wasn’t sure if my mother was following the protocols required to keep her safe. The logistics of getting supplies for the factories was riddled with insurmountable challenges. If production didn’t start soon it would lead to a million complications. My friend’s father was infected by the virus and he seemed tormented by the fact that he had to be alone in a hospital bed beyond the comfort of his loved ones. Where was this world really headed? Where would it take me? This mocking silence, what does it really breed in its belly?

As weeks passed to months I realised that this pandemic at its very heart was no different from any other disruption that we find in our lives. The degree may be more severe. The number of people affected incalculable. But the anatomy was the same. A sense of fear of the unknown. The anxiety of loss. Helplessness at not having the answers. Not knowing if one has the means to resolve the issues. The trepidation of having to start all over again. Be it a disruption in our professional lives or personal the questions are similar. The pain and anxiety are alike. The sense of vulnerability congenerous. So, navigating disruption must have some universal codes. This led me to the three most important factors that can help when facing any kind of disruption in our lives.

Communicate

Whenever faced with a serious adversity very often we tend to withdraw within ourselves. While salvation lies in doing the opposite. If it is a business disruption, as a leader, you need to communicate with all the stakeholders. Informing people about what is happening gives them a sense of confidence that someone is on the job to find answers. It also injects a sense of responsibility and purpose amongst all. Communicating with others who are in the same boat as you can keep you better informed. Keeping all the lines open helps you get important feedback that can be key to quick and effective decision making.

If it is the loss of a loved one, a tortured set of circumstances or relationships then too you should open up channels of communication with someone with whom you can share. It could be a friend or someone in the family. Having a shoulder to lean on takes the weight off your feet. Sharing is the best way of caring for yourself.

Collaborate

The power of collective will help surmount great challenges. The biggest wars ever fought have time and again been testimony to the might of coming together. People will ally with you if you reach out to them and ask for support. In business, very often not just employees but associates, vendors, channel partners can play a critical role in managing disruption. In exceptional circumstances, even your consumers can be called upon to join forces with you. Successful leaders know how to harness this power exponentially in times of crisis. 

When our personal lives are in distress there are always those who can help. Focussing on identifying them and approaching them can be of great assistance. Not everyone is a willing helper. But collaborators can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. You are never alone if you choose not to be.

Counsel

The wise know the value of advice. When decisions are guided by knowledge they are on firmer footing. Seeking expert advice makes the process of recovery from crisis more efficient and lessens the risk of failure. The cost of good advice can pay itself back many times over with a faster comeback while the lack of quality counsel can be an expensive proposition with delayed recovery or failure to succeed. Leaders in business or governance often fail to heed this in the misplaced conviction that they alone have all the answers.

In our personal tragedies, challenges and mishaps too there are those who can help. They could be mentors or professionals with knowledge and experience. The sagacity to seek counsel at the early stages does much to ameliorate avoidable pain and suffering. Stress and anxiety can strike at the root of judgement. Knowing when to bring in voices from outside to outwit the voices in your head can lead you to the right answers.

Three simple factors and they can help you bridge the chasm in a professional or personal crisis. Whether the disruption is global or deeply personal the nature of the beast is the same. Practising communicating, collaborating and seeking counsel when required in our daily lives will help us, as well as others around us, whenever a Gordian knot comes our way.

You can DM me on LinkedIn or write in to [email protected]

(Nitish Mukherjee is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion.)