It’s Emotional – Focus on the Hole

This is the first installment in my series It’s Emotional–Creating an Unprecedented Team and Customer Experience in this Pandemic. This series is designed to offer tools to manage your emotions as well as support the emotional journey of your prospects and customers.

This week’s installment is titled Focus on the Hole. I take exception with the overuse of some words these days, particularly when those words suggest we are powerless or helpless.

One of my least favorite words (which I intentionally repurposed) for the title of this series is the word UNPRECEDENTED. Normally when we hear that word these days, it is used to signify the magnitude of the challenges we are all facing. With regard to challenges, let’s look at what the word implies.

According to most dictionaries, unprecedented means having no prior occurrence for something similar. Granted, most of us have not experienced a pandemic, however, throughout history, there are prior occurrences of something similar.

In fact, there are a lot of them. The Visual Capitalist created an infographic showing the history of pandemics.

If you compare COVID-19 on the death toll alone, we have many precedents. For example, six pandemics have produced tens of millions of deaths, and the Black Death or the Bubonic Plague produced 200 million deaths. After each of those devastatingly and deadly disruptions, society has rebounded and often entered periods of substantial innovation and growth. In short, both pandemics and social recoveries have a historical precedent.

Impressively, those recoveries typically lacked an understanding of germ theory and none had the benefit of cloud-based technology. The same could be said of our horrific unemployment and financial circumstance. Many people have never been laid off before and most leaders have not been put in the position of laying people off at current levels, but unemployment and layoffs have precedents.

For example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt faced 25% unemployment in 1931 when he assumed office. So the path to bouncing back has been chartered.

I’ve been blogging for a long time, so I did a quick search for the word “layoff” and pulled out one example from my blog archive. I wrote these words in a blog shortly after Starbucks completed a substantial round of layoffs and closed 300 stores in 2009:

If you grow too fast, expand your products too far away from your core, and/or compromise the experience – the customer WILL leave (particularly in difficult economic times)!  If you recover your identity and innovate experiences aided by common sense and technology… you are given the chance to recover, thrive, and grow!

Starbucks bounced back. Those who were laid off in 2009 found jobs and the economy made a steep recovery. In fact, there are lots of precedents for economic recovery.

What I want to help you do is to set a precedent for an unparalleled response to the needs of your team members and customers.

So, let’s get to my tip of the week which I title focus on the hole NOT the donut. That phrase came into my consciousness over the past several weeks while talking to quite literally more than 100 CEOs, board members, and executives. One of those individuals was Steve Anderson, the co-founder of the Crown Council and Total Patient Service Institute. Steve describes the concept of focusing on “the hole, not the donut” by suggesting the doughy part of the donut is all the things we can’t control and the hole is the part we can control or at a minimum – influence.

To stay emotionally engaged, I challenge you to take an inventory of things you can control, followed by a list of things you can influence. I think you will be surprised by the significance of items on that list.

For example, I control whether to establish a routine, what I watch, what I eat, if I exercise, whether I call a client, and whether I will challenge myself to mount an unprecedented response to a set of challenges that others have weathered. I hope to influence you to do the same.

In the spirit of influencing you, I’d love to talk to you about what you are focusing on, what you control and what you influence. Simply reach out to me.

Look for next week’s installment as we mount an UNPRECEDENTED response to this pandemic, one that makes our teams, our customers, and our businesses stronger.

Smoke over black background

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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