Total click bait of a title. Right? Except I am dead serious and this is more important than you think. As a matter of fact in this endearing ‘little’ story we are going to unpack on this post lies the Covid-19 pandemic writ large, its disruptive and frequently disastrous effects and the positives that come out of the disruption of the status quo.
So, let’s establish one thing first. The status quo, is a system that, like every system, ultimately works to support its practises and perpetuate itself. Anything established, by definition, tries to maintain stability by keeping disruption to a minimum. Keeping disruption to a minimum means innovation (because we logically have to have it) is incremental and as little as we can possibly get away with. Improvements (because we need to have them) are largely cosmetic and don’t “fix what ain’t broken” by causing undue disruption in the fundamental workings of the system.
Apply this to your everyday life and pre-pandemic world and it basically translates to an enormous negative force bearing down on your ideas, drive, enthusiasm and initiative. If you happened to work in a regular job in a company it translated into “this is not our way” resistance to your every pitch, idea and suggestion (until you gave up and just got on with your work to the next paycheck). If you were an entrepreneur everything was “too different, too new or too risky” until you compromised and either brought out some watered-down version of the idea you had or went away and forgot about it as being not good enough to happen.
The status quo, as a system, is designed to keep you in your place doing what the system wants you to do. Janitors do not become professors and get the girl irrespective of how smart they are. Is if, of course, possible to disrupt the system and break about paradigm shifts that are truly sensational. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk (to pick three obvious examples) did just that and succeeded wildly. This is why despite accepting the orthodoxy of the system and agreeing to its aversion on risk and disorder, we also value disruption.
The Pandemic Is A Disruptor
The Covid-19 is a global stressor. As a global stressor it is a disruptor. It is changing the culture we experience around us because it is forcing a change in our behavior. A change in behavior leads to a change in values.
When culture, behavior and values change then the system that was around them breaks down. It is not just disrupted. It stops working. On the surface of things this is as bad as it sounds. We all rely on the system to deliver something to us: jobs, security, news, certainty, assurance, confidence, career paths. When that goes away we are left in a freefall situation where the things we expect have to still be delivered, but in a new way.
That is how the future happens. In many ways it is already here, hampered by the grip of the past upon the present. The moment that grip is relinquished because it can no longer hold us in its thrall, we are free to explore fresh ideas and new ways of getting the things that matter to us, done.
And all this, neatly brings us to Zoom calls (which we all engage in more and more because of the Covid-19 pandemic) and goats. Dot McCarthy, runs a farm in Lancashire. On that farm she has goats. Like most small-scale farms she augments her income by making the scenic surroundings available for weddings and the occasional holiday-maker who wants to experience farm life while on a break.
So far so good and so status-quo worthy. The pandemic not only put paid to the sideline income stream but it also made farming a challenge in itself. Dot, as she explains, put up a line on her website as a jest. Something to cheer people up. And, in the process, discovered something unique:
Having made internet history of a sort, Dot discovered that her joke-turned side-gig not only more than made up for the financial hole in her business created by the pandemic but has also made her and her goats, internet celebrities. (You can check out the goats here).
What Do We Learn?
So, that’s the lesson here? First, and most obviously, we need to accept that unless we are willing to go all-out, push hard and disrupt the status quo we will never get anywhere. This is why the 3Ps of success are Passion, Perseverance and Purpose.
Purpose gives you vision. Vision creates drive. Drive is needed for persistence. These feed into your belief of who you are and what you do. That translates into your passion. The 3Ps help you win when everything else tells you that you will most probably fail. (Gates, Jobs and Musk territory again).
But that is not all we learn here.
What we see is that the world is changing. The moment some stranger is willing to pay good money to have a goat attend a business call the ‘norms’ that are the accepted language if communication of the status quo, are changing. That means that people across the world are willing to take (small) risks in order to do things a little differently.
The world is changing. But people haven’t vanished. The fundamentals that drive human connection, communication and needs remain the same. They are however, fulfilled differently.
The real lessons then are:
- Look past what you experience to seek fresh opportunities with what you have (goats turned here from farm producers to video entertainers)
- Keep an open mind. (Dot’s new venture began as a joke on her website)
- Focus on people not business (Dot’s primary motivator was to make someone smile and feel better about their day)
- The fundamentals of human interaction are still the same (there is no valid business or social reason for anyone to hire a goat for a Zoom call)
These are basic elements. Put them to work for yourself.