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Adversity Leads to Advantage

Image with red flower - Quote - The flower that blooms in adveristy is the rarest and the most beautiful of all. Walt Disney

On my personal Facebook page and on Medium I posted an Easter read titled “My Soul is Crushed with Grief Even to Death”; it has ignited some much-needed lively dialogue. After some reflection following these engaged conversations, I realized the benefits of additional perspective as well as my anticipation for transformational change in corporate America.

My thoughts were heavy leading up to Good Friday and that was reflected in my message. The last 4 weeks I have been supporting a variety of people from my father isolated in his nursing home to elderly neighbors to a young, unemployed and newly widowed mother of 6 with children 1–15 years old.

What a terrible time to lose a spouse and learn there was no life insurance policy. What a terrible time for your 82-year-old spouse to fall, break a hip, require surgery and you can’t visit him. What a terrible time to have high blood pressure necessitating a brief hospitalization only to return home, alone, in your 80’s with no children or spouse. COVID-19 has really been a challenge for so many!

I have been shopping, cooking and delivering prepared food and groceries to 4 households. The effort takes 30% + of my week but it has been a relief to focus on others and be supportive during these times. The grief I shared in that story was not so much mine since my family and the company I founded 14 years ago, Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE) — are faring well.

The grief I shared was their silent voices, the heaviness of their hearts, the people who I have been blessed to personally comfort.

There is another message I’m equally eager to share; it is one of reassurance. I see a tiny crack of light illuminating the optimistic future first proposed in John Mackey and Raj Sisodia’s book Conscious Capitalism. The promise of the conscious capitalism movement is that the authentic purpose of business is to elevate humanity and create value for the benefit of everyone.

It’s a really simple premise and one that more than ever we might all want to embrace.

This is a moment in time that I hope we do not waste after this complex and brutally painful experience. For ICE it’s been a time to recalibrate our values, implement initiatives to improve our skills, increase training. We’ve noticed communication and collaboration within our micro teams has dramatically improved. We are focusing ever more on our higher purpose and ultimately, the gratitude we have for each other.

Gratitude in enormous abundance!

This is a foundational value that ICE has built its house on but has really taken the forefront in how we perceive this new reality. At our virtual staff meeting this week ICE President, Alysse Cooper, was sharing how impactful it was to read Ryan Holiday’s book “The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage”. These are a few of the hundred great quotes from this timely book noted in blue that capture how our teammates are viewing the COVID-19 experience.

“All great victories, be they in politics, business, art, or seduction, involved resolving vexing problems with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus, and daring. When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go — carving you a path. “The Things which hurt,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “instruct”.

“If we’re to overcome our obstacles, this is the message to broadcast — internally and externally. We will not be stopped by failure, we will not be rushed or distracted by external noise. We will chisel and peg away at the obstacle until it is gone. Resistance is futile.”

We don’t fear obstacles, they are normal and we have always used them to improve our skills, our processes and procedures. Because we’ve embraced non-hierarchical constructs, we adapt quickly, efficiently and with great enthusiasm. We promote a collective mindset that we are all ‘works in progress’. COVID-19 did not create insurmountable obstacles, it revealed our steely commitment to not just survival but becoming better versions of ourselves both in our personal and professional lives. It solidified the economics of mutuality baked into our corporate culture.

I learned during the staff meeting how we all were serving others by focusing on being more attentive parents, children, spouses, neighbors. Their stories were positive, uplifting, hopeful! It was yet another silver lining discovered through this quarantine, so many were connecting in more meaningful ways. And that is a very, very good thing.

Many average citizens are serving our community such as Eric Northbrook from Voit commercial brokerage. Eric has been delivering dinners, snacks, water, hand sanitizers made by Seven Caves Distillery, even specially designed head bands with buttons to protect beleaguered ears from the discomfort of face masks. All personally delivered to our healthcare heroes at Sharp and Scripps hospitals.

Natalie Quirarte with Hall Private Wealth Advisors orchestrated food donations for Generate Hope, a non-profit that shelters survivors of sex trafficking. She has tirelessly collected groceries and paper goods to support two homes that house these brave women.

So many ordinary citizens stepping up to do extraordinary deeds for fellow San Diegans!

“How we interpret the events in our lives, our perspective, is the framework for our forthcoming response… Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.”

“Perspective has two definitions. Context: a sense of the larger picture of the world, not just what is immediately in front of us. Framing: an individual’s unique way of looking at the world, a way that interprets its events.”

This week I’ve learned how much our ICE perspectives have shifted. We missed the routine of meeting in our WELL-inspired workspace, catching up on each other’s lives, collaborating in person; the human connection that is fostered at ICE was sorely missed. Our higher purpose statement, “Creating Space to Transcend the Ordinary” is about creating physical and emotional space to foster excellence. With an ‘abundance of gratitude’, our team mates look forward to getting back to our nourishing emotional space and healthy routines established prior to mandatory quarantine.

They felt isolation had revealed how unhealthy it was to always work from home and the beneficial attributes of workplace family. The value of physically connecting in our imperfect humanness had shifted; even their perspective of commuting had swung towards appreciationRight action follows the right perspective.

As we approach “The Great Reoccupation” of our physical workspaces, many of the commercial brokers, landlords and designers we are fortunate to work with also are espousing a raised awareness of the value of community. They anticipate greater demand to develop elevated communal spaces to enjoy our humanity in. That is also a very, very good thing!

“Certain things in life will cut you open like a knife. When that happens — at that exposing moment — the world gets a glimpse of what’s truly inside you. So, what will be revealed when you’re sliced open by tension and pressure? Iron? Or air? Or bullshit?” What a phenomenal question to ask oneself! The pandemic certainly exposed weaknesses.

Companies that do not value social and human capital will not fare nearly as well as companies that do. With the tsunami of money flooding our economy, those who revere financial capital will be exposed.

The value a company puts in people, the precise tenets of conscious capitalism which I first discussed in my opinion piece October 2019, ‘Is this the Pivotal Year for Conscious Capitalism?’, hopefully, finally, will be actuated. Minimally, COVID-19 will reveal the imbalance our culture places on financial capital and illuminate the beneficial advantages of investment in human capital which actually leads to higher profitability.

Conscious business enterprises lose nothing, it’s quite the opposite.

We believe there is potential for much good to come out of the isolation created by the pandemic, revealing a depth of gratitude and appreciation for the true significance of life that we had not realized.

“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”

That was the hopeful message, that pernicious silver lining I was seeking last week; here’s to improving all the great global and American companies out there. Stand strong, stand together, keep your focus on our common humanity and we’ll get through this with grace.

DeLinda Forsythe -Adversity_Leads_to_Advantage
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