3 Unexpected Opportunities Starting in 2021

Innovation Opportunities Leadership

(Approximate reading time 3-4mins)

One year ago today, I remember vividly watching in horror the chaos that medical staff, COVID patients and close family members in Italy were having to endure at the very beginning of the global pandemic.  It was the first time that I had really started to understand what was happening in the world, and gleaned an insight in to what might be to come.  The next morning, I wrote a list about what some of the potential positives might be from the global pandemic.  Possibly this was my own defence mechanism coming in to play to counteract the suffering feeling I had started to feel in the pit of my stomach.   Regardless, here is what I wrote…unedited:

  • Quality time with loved ones.
  • CO2 emissions. Ability to see planet Venus!
  • Companies offering stuff for free for people. Free books to read etc? Thinking about adding value not making money only.
  • Companies making goods for frontline workers even when its not their business (Zara / Nike / Dyson / Spurs supplying food / Chelsea their hotel).
  • Slowing down and time to think / read / exercise / listen.
  • Being mindful and Thinking about what you consume (food and otherwise).
  • Perspective on what really matters in the world.
  • Small Communities re-forming. “Help thy neighbour”
  • Volunteers to support and help the vulnerable.
  • What is real and what isn’t real? Love compassion empathy certainly is real. 
  • Proves that we need true global co-operation.
  • Faster and more robust tech systems required so being fast tracked.
  • Nature has been re-emerging.

As you can see, some of these items were quite tactical and ‘in the moment’ based upon news items from that week (seeing Venus, organisations jumping in to help the suffering, which were all rays of light at the time).

Now, as I sit here in March 2021, we have all had more time to digest and process what has happened and I have noted THREE unexpected opportunities that are prevalent today.  What I know for sure, is that are never going to be getting back to normal, the world has transformed in a way we could never have imagined.  Some factors slowing us down, some factors speeding us up exponentially:

  1. The simple life can be as nourishing as the busy life.

“I learned I need to be more present and spend more time with my kids”.  Is a quote I’ve heard many times in the last months.  Wow.  It has taken a global pandemic to re-teach us that dedicating quality time to our loved ones is an incredibly important part of our life.  We also re-learned that time in nature is free and that we can have wonderful experiences which don’t cost anything in the great outdoors.  This leans in to a macro-learning I believe which is that pre-2020 we had become so reliant on our happiness coming from external factors (sport / music / bars / restaurants / shopping) and had lost touch with living in the moment with our friends and family in beautiful natural environments.

  1. Our elders (70+) are ‘tough as old boots’ and we can learn from this.

We were all captivated by the story of Captain Tom Moore in the last 12 months.  And with absolutely no doubt, the elderly population was one of the biggest affected group in the last year.  Whether in a care home, simply being most vulnerable due to age or whether shielding / isolating alone for long periods of time from loved ones.  What I witnessed was resolute toughness, one of which only comes from growing up during times which we must all recognise were tougher in many ways than the last few decades for sure.  Perspective is such an important word and of course there are many challenges for many groups and individuals in today’s world, we can’t dismiss that.  However the fact as we sit here in 2021 (Pandemic aside) is that we are all living in the safest, most comfortable environment in history and so we have to keep our feet on the ground and learn from our the likes of Captain Tom Moore on how we can stay stoic, how we can stay unified and how we can be individually resilient.

  1. Ability to adapt and innovate are two new key metrics for future success.

We have seen so much innovation emerge in the last 12 months.  All companies had to evolve digitally, the financial system started to see disruption with crypto-currency & NFT's becoming very investable assets for many and the Reddit / Gamestop case study challenging traditional norms.  From 2021 the world will not stand still, in fact it will accelerate faster than it ever has in the history of the planet, and so as humans, the trait of being able to adapt fast and innovate will be highly valued.  This links of course to the point above about resilience, but most importantly we must educate ourselves constantly, never stand still.  I have seen in the last five years a vast emergence within the wellness space blending western and eastern principles.  Mindfulness, Yoga etc becoming extremely prominent.  I would say now is the time to BUILD on the good practices many of you have started to put in place and educate yourselves on new technologies or anything that you’re interested in to help your growth.

We can’t underestimate the suffering millions of people have experienced recently, and for sure we’re not out of the woods, however we all received a clear signal from planet earth / the universe that we must change the way we do things.  It’s important not to forget our past and learn from it, conversely we must also break some systems that are not be working and not be afraid adapt and innovate fast if we’re to continue to flourish.  Strength, resilience, togetherness, compassion and crucially the ability to adapt will all help us to continue on this wonderful existence that we are all blessed with.

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