3 Lessons I Learned from a Worldwide Pandemic

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since the COVID-19 virus upended all our lives. So much has changed since March 2020. My wife, Margie, often says, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Meaning that when things go wrong, she looks for the opportunity in the crisis by asking, “What’s good about this?”

For me personally, COVID drove home three important lessons.

Lesson #1: Change is inevitable—and that can be a good thing.

The pandemic fundamentally changed the way our company—and millions of other organizations—do business. Zoom came alive and permitted us all to communicate more frequently with people near and far. Our company has associates from all around the world. With Zoom, our global people can now participate in our virtual, all-company meetings on a level playing field, without feeling like outsiders.

Another upside to the pandemic was discovering that we didn’t have to travel to be productive. I’m able to give keynotes and consult with clients right from my office—either at company headquarters or at home. We can get together in person when it makes sense to do so, but we no longer have to spend so much time on the road or on airplanes.

We’ve discovered that with today’s technology, people can be just as productive—if not more so—from their home offices. Most people still go into the office at least a couple of days a week, but it’s easier on the planet and people’s stress levels to not have to commute every single day.

Lesson #2: It’s important to plan for the future.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to prepare for the future. But most people find that it’s difficult to manage day-to-day operations and plan for the future at the same time. That’s why my wife, Margie, created the Office of the Future when she was the president of our company.

The Office of the Future looked at trends five, ten, and twenty years out. Because our company had already anticipated online learning and invested in digital technologies, we weren’t caught completely flat-footed when the pandemic hit. All the energy we had put into planning for the digital future really helped us survive when classroom training was shut down by the virus.

What about your organization? What steps can you be taking now to make sure that you’ll be ready when the next disruption occurs?

Lesson #3: Keep your I-love-you’s up to date.

Sadly, the pandemic took many lives. It’s hard to find an upside to losing people you love. However, those losses drive home how important it is to communicate our love to those we hold dear. Don’t wait for the perfect moment; do it as soon as you think about that person. Remember:

Nice thoughts not communicated mean squat.

It’s just as important to express our love on a regular basis to the people we live with, so that those relationships stay healthy. If you’re not feeling loving, figure out why and deal with it. Small resentments can turn into big problems over time. When the pandemic hit, the lockdowns tested a lot of marriages—and some didn’t pass that test. Don’t let that happen to you. Catch your partner doing things right on a regular basis.

What about you? In what way is your life different now than before the pandemic? What lessons have you learned from it? Take a few minutes to stop, think, and answer these questions. As Margie would put it, don’t let the COVID-19 crisis go to waste. Reflecting on your experiences is one of the most powerful ways to learn from them.