In the poem, Sad Cure, Graham Greene wrote that “Comfort and Fear – these two alone make Life / But while the Fear too often stood alone…The Comfort always had been mixed with fear.” *
That sentiment characterizes how many now are living: in fear. And because of that fear, they are allowing themselves to settle with what is most comfortable even when there are opportunities available. I must confess some disappointment that, despite the length of time we’ve had to become acclimated to the pandemic, many have failed to grasp the opportunities that have become obvious.
We’ve drifted down the river – rather than steer our own course – paralyzed by television news and social media and hoping for things to return to how they were in the good old days.
In some ways, my industry has acted differently. It has demonstrated a willingness to come together, with competitors collaborating in the hosting of events. There also have been new national advocacy efforts that I hope will champion the power and business value of events as we head into the future. You could also argue that the speed with which many events switched to virtual mode has proven to be a great learning opportunity for the industry.
All the above were spawned by reaction to the pandemic, rather than intentional efforts to innovate and grasp new opportunities. Despite all the positives that have happened, we’ve still tended to retreat due to the fear of failing, taking comfort in waiting until the situation returns to “normal” when we can again do what we did before.
I guess we’ll find out what the new “normal” is when vaccines take hold, the economy opens, and travel and budgets free up.
But rather than just wait, we still have an opportunity to act now. What do I suggest?
To start, I suggest we use the ‘energy’ of fear harness the opportunities of the future. Part of being able to do that will also demand that you:
1) Be friendly and helpful to others, even if you don’t agree with them- this will build future relationships.
2) Continue to listen to and learn from your customers- this will build loyalty and ideas for new products.
3) Constantly test innovation-this will build the business of the future.
4) Trust yourself and your colleagues that despite fear, your gut is usually right- this will build your business
Because of where we are, I see great opportunities available to us. If I am to learn anything from the Graham Greene poem, it’s to use fear as something that fuels an intention to find the next level of accomplishment.
Enjoy the opportunity to do so.
* “Sad Cure” as cited by Norman Sherry in ‘The Life of Graham Greene: Volume One, 1904-1939’