Lesson 1: Don’t panic. Easier said than done, right? Almost overnight the world was flipped upside down. The thing about a business in a crisis compared to an individual is this – nobody is coming to save you. It would have been easy to throw our hands up in the air, sit back, and feel sorry for ourselves. The thing about OUR business is that we are filled with leaders, and collectively we organized and made plans to ensure our supply chain. When times get tough, don’t panic; instead, mobilize and execute.
Lesson 2: We have been here before. Sure, not all at once, but we have seen these things before. We have dealt with port strikes, natural disasters, booming demand from customers, and vessel shortages. Thus, handling these issues becomes a process. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and slowly the process takes over and the problems resolve.
Lesson 3: Effective communication is more important than ever. And nothing that we have dealt with up until this point has solidified this quite like the pandemic has. Communication, both internally and with our customers and vendors, has really proven to be paramount to our success during these times. You can only fix what you know is broken, and when lead times both overseas and domestically are being pushed to time frames that were previously unthinkable, you need to act quickly. Knowing what questions to ask and how to navigate responses might seem minuscule, though such decisions ultimately result in significant time and monetary savings down the road.
Lesson 5: Proceed with empathy. The truth is that you have no idea what someone else might be dealing with. Maybe they have a friend or family member that is sick, or even the fear of such a thing. Maybe they have a spouse that has been furloughed or a child that is stuck at home their first year into college. And let us be clear in saying that you should always proceed with empathy toward another person regardless of the situation, though sometimes it takes times like these to show us how we can always improve ourselves.
Lesson 6: Don’t stop seeking the lessons. They will continue to show themselves and it is up to us to figure out what they are trying to teach us. And they are always teachable moments, regardless of whether we perceive them as positive or negative. At first they may appear as obstacles, though, as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius put it, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Thus, the obstacle is the way forward.