Covid, Your Career, and Newton’s Law

Covid, Your Career, and Newton’s Law

Category : 2020

If you are looking for a unique sobriquet for 2020, the events of this year give you plenty of material.

  • How about calling 2020 The Year of Non Sequiturs? How many times have we found rapidly changing circumstances make an explanation we are giving no longer flow logically from what we said before? Most of us have felt like Alan Greenspan when he said, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
  • This could be The Year of Paradoxical Performance. You don’t set record trading levels on the NYSE and NASDAQ while record numbers of people file for unemployment. Financial and retirement portfolios don’t give double-digit returns while major corporations and small businesses become the backstories for bankruptcy case studies.
  • On a positive note, we can’t deny 2020 is The Year of Unanticipated Productivity as businesses learn to operate behind a mask, employees shift to home offices and virtual workplaces, and education systems—and the kids who use them—demonstrate incredible levels of innovation and resilience.

If you can absorb a radical shift in analogies, 2020 also closely resembles Talking Head’s leading edge 1984 music documentary Stop Making Sense. The recording of the group’s three performances at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles powerfully demonstrates that a group that didn’t behave as expected felt no need to release a live album that played by anyone’s rules. The YouTube trailer feels a bit like watching 2020 in 3:10.

From non sequiturs to paradoxical performances, any effort to make sense of mixed signals can easily result in a demonstration of Newton’s First Law– every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Uncertainty easily precipitates career inertia as a talented executive implements a business plan while, at a personal level, unconsciously or purposefully resisting any change in direction. What feels like steady-state is more accurately stuck.

Doing nothing or staying fixed until an unexpected force changes the scenario is a sketchy career strategy anytime, and especially when unanticipated changes, unexpected events, and hard-to-understand messages permeate life. As vaccines are administered across the globe, we will either see a clear path to “normalcy” or a face disappointment that carries overwhelming ramifications. As winter settles over us, we can’t afford to sequester ourselves with a cup of Newton’s Law and the hope that as spring blooms, life will revert to a pre-pandemic state.

While you provide clear messages of wisdom and counsel to subordinates, friends, and peers, you may find it challenging to locate a credible source for the insight and perspective you need as you contemplate your professional trajectory for the coming months. You need someone with expertise, a broad knowledge of the market, an understanding of your unique circumstances, and the ability to challenge your thinking in a way that stimulates purposeful, and proactive movement that isn’t dependent on an external force. 

Most people embrace change only when discomfort with a current situation exceeds their discomfort with or fear of change. A wise executive can’t afford to be like “most people.” Preparation leads to opportunities. If you want to avoid mixed message inertia and be ready for the unique prospects you face, let Leapfrog Executive Services help you create a new level of confidence about your readiness to take the next step.