Pandemic, Resilience, and Unexpected Consequences

In early March of 2020, I was a enjoying a quiet dinner out with my wife after a busy week of work. We were comparing our respective books of business for the first half of 2020 – hers in a residential interior design business and mine in resilience training. My schedule for our instructor-led corporate training was full and we were about to add a facilitator to take some of the load. I was looking forward to the best year we’d had in the last five. Then the pandemic hit.

A week later we were in lockdown. Our clients literally shut their doors and sent everyone home. We didn’t know how long this would last, but the initial weeks-long shutdown stretched into months. And months of scheduled live on-site resilience training programs were canceled. We were literally out of business.

Our knee-jerk response was to try switching to virtual instructor-led training. We split our popular one day live class into two, four hour Zoom sessions. We delivered a few of these but it didn’t take long for our clients to stop scheduling them. Resilience skills were more critical than ever, but participants working from home were overwhelmed by other video meetings and were unwilling or unable to commit to eight more hours in front of their screens. And truth told, we didn’t think that this modality was effective enough to meet our own standards. We were stuck.

The pandemic had created a burning platform for our business. There was no going back to the way things were, and the only way forward was to rebuild our business from the ground up. This meant moving our resilience training programs online. But I couldn’t see a clear path forward.

After a couple of sleepless nights, I knew it was time to practice what we preach and draw from my own well of resilience. I needed to check on my levels of four critical resilience strengths:

  • Self Control – The ability to keep our emotions and behavior in check and stay goal-focused, especially when under stress
  • Problem Focus – The ability to accurately determine root cause and steer resources toward solving the right problem
  • Positivity – The ability to remain realistically optimistic and confident that we can handle the challenges that come our way
  • Connection – The ability to find meaning and purpose in our work and lives at large; having a clear line of sight to how what we do makes a difference.

In the face of this business crisis, Positivity and Connection were strengths that I brought to the table. My Self Control was challenged by fear of losing the business I had worked so long and hard to build. So I used an Adaptiv resilience skill to stay calm. My Problem Focus was low due to my fundamental ignorance of digital instructional design. So I assembled a team of online training experts and consultants who guided us through the complex process of platform selection and course building. After a quick but thorough market analysis, we partnered with a digital training pioneer whose collaborative online platform appeared to meet our needs.

We had set a course of action, but I was skeptical. Could we really impart resilience skills without real time interaction and guidance from a live subject matter expert? Well, after months of rethinking, reworking, rebuilding and testing our proven content in an online modality, customer response has been fantastic. Our online participants are learning and more deeply applying Adaptiv’s resilience skills to their business challenges. And the scalability of our online courses is allowing us to reach much larger audiences in less time and more cost effectively. Based on year-to-date bookings, 2021 is shaping up to be our best year ever, and I am becoming a digital training evangelist.

There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a disaster of global proportions. But many of us have experienced unexpected consequences – some of them positive. Because we were forced to stop what we doing and do the hard work of core business transformation, Adaptiv is emerging stronger than ever.

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