Between BC and AD
We’re living in The Disruption, and it’ll soon be time to emerge.
In the last few days, we’ve had a family bereavement. Nothing to do with the COVID Pandemic, my mother-in-law was 94 and passed away very peacefully with her family by her side holding her hand. Doris was loved by many and an inspiration to all who knew her, never complaining despite the many ailments she was carrying, and always thinking of others first. For Doris, the pandemic is over, although I’m not sure that she really grasped what it was all about.
We had a meeting to arrange with the undertakers. Obviously, they’ll come to the house … won’t they? Of course they will, that’s what they do, because that’s what they always used to do, because that’s the way they’ve always done it, Before COVID … BC.
They didn’t. We had a call to discuss the arrangements.
That’s just one of a long list of things that will be done differently AD … After Disruption. Before COVID we did this; After Disruption, we’ll do that. Many things will change during The Disruption. For example, the new £20 note has entered circulation, and some may remember that during BC the UK was part of the European Union; AD will include the final settlement of the Brexit arrangements.
My career had a disruption too just after I married my bride, although it wasn’t caused by a pandemic.
After graduation, my early career was spent managing engineering projects for a tyre manufacturing company. The disruption was caused when I was promoted to become a Process Specialist.
Now the process of making tyres is split into four processes. Process 1 involves mixing the rubber with chemicals to form the right rubber compounds with all the properties necessary for its intended use. For example, the rubber used to form the sidewall has to be really flexible, while the rubber used for the tread has to have a good grip and be resistant to wear.
Process 2 involves making these compounds into long profiled strips which are then rolled onto reels for storage and subsequent use. Process 3 involves assembling the tyres from the reels of product into individual tyres by unrolling them onto a drum, cutting the profiled rubber to length, and sticking the end of the rubber strip to the start. Process 4 starts after the assembled uncured tyre had been stored for a pre-defined length of time, and they are then they are loaded one at a time into curing presses to form the completed product, a tyre.
I was appointed into the role of the UK specialist for the second of these processes for the UK fleet of four factories, that of making the rubber compounds into long reels of the correct profile for assembly. To start this role, my wife Sue, and I, lived in France at the company HQ while I was immersed into several months of training and working alongside my French colleagues. During this time we were immersed into the french culture both at work and at home. I had to learn to speak French to be able to engage in the training and to be able to work effectively with my colleagues. Apparently I even dreamt in French!
There was a clear difference in my language skills from the time before we went to France, to the time after our return to the UK when I took up my new position. However, in addition to learning a new language I had learned to drive on the other side of the road, I had explored some new engineering skills, and I had developed a whole new network of people to communicate with. We had settled into a new culture, found new friends, and we had formed new habits in this new environment. We had to; the old culture was now out of reach in a different country, our old friends were no longer easily available, and we had to learn to adapt to doing everyday things in new ways.
We are all in the middle of The Disruption right now, and we’re having to learn a new digital language, getting used to not driving to meetings, exploring some new technology skills, and a whole new network of people to communicate with. After The Disruption, in AD, we’ll probably be using the new language more fluently, not driving to meetings so much and working from home a few days a week, retaining some of the new habits such as home deliveries for online purchases including the weekly grocery shopping, and continuing to develop the new tech skills we’ve acquired too.
We’ll treasure the precious physical face to face time we get to spend with family and close friends while getting used to using the “in-door” and the “out-door” in any shops we actually visit, and not shaking hands with people we meet. The dynamics and “atmosphere” at large public gatherings will change significantly with social distancing, so some will simply cease to happen, and I imagine that the “self-cleaning” variety of public lavatories will become more prevalent in shopping and dining areas.
The air will stay cleaner too, at least for a while, and who knows, we may see a continued and prolonged reduction in the emission of global warming gases.
We may have picked up some less helpful habits during The Disruption too. Maybe we have started staying up late and sleeping in because we could. Maybe we’ve over-indulged our OCD handwashing habit because it’s encouraged. Maybe we’ve developed a fear of leaving the house, and for some, the fear of meeting new people that they had managed to keep under control has grown to become a phobia.
Living in a new culture is tiring, and we’ll need to pace ourselves differently while we’re there. Anyone who’s gone shopping in a foreign country will probably remember the challenges of locating the right shop and then looking for clues to find the right product. There’s often a little moment of pride when we finally discover the right match too!
I remember the elation of buying a bean to cup coffee maker since I love to drink really strong freshly ground espresso. However, I also remember the acid reflux and heartburn that I started to experience from enjoying several cups of double espresso a day! As with all things, as we move towards AD there will be some new practices, habits and technology that we’ll have to learn not to overuse. AD brings with it a new culture, and it’ll take time to adjust to that.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.