Change – The Great Elixir for Solving Problems


Today we are confronting centuries of systemic social injustice – racism; an environmental threat not experienced for generations – a pandemic; and a financial crisis whose final chapters are yet to be written – economic turmoil.

These three foes have something in common. A global population uniting to fight them. If we learn from the lessons being taught and have a little luck, fighting these common foes will help us make permanent change that creates a more unified human existence.

Collectively, global humanity is simply the sum of our parts. That is nearly 8 billion individual parts. All with a role to play in helping us overcome the trials we are facing.

What mindset can we adopt to battle these adversaries?

Racism and many other social injustice “isms” have been around since the beginning of human development. Prior to George Floyd’s death I hadn’t considered myself directly impacted by racism. In fact, I felt good about the civil rights progress our generation had made. The last couple of weeks have shattered that illusion. I guess it was easier to believe the illusion, pat myself on the back and move on to new, ”more important” matters. I apologize to those I didn’t take time to understand.

If empathy rules the day and we collectively walk in the shoes of others, our children and grandchildren will experience a better world.

Change – The Great Elixir for Solving Problems

As I reflect on how I need to change to reduce the inequities that have grown within our society I know I can start by learning more about others. By making their history part of my understanding. Until two weeks ago I had never heard of Juneteenth and couldn’t name the month, let alone the date of emancipation. I admit, I have a long way to go. It will be a journey of personal growth I look forward to. I don’t expect it to be easy. But I do expect to become a better person for it.

Pandemics. What good are they? For those who have lost a loved one from Covid-19 I am sorry for your loss and pray for your heart’s consolation. Can we find a silver lining among all the pain, suffering and sacrifice we have endured to overcome this disease?

Change – The Great Elixir for Solving Problems

If there is one thing I have learned from the pandemic, it’s how quickly the sand can shift. What appeared stable yesterday is teetering today and what appeared as leading edge in early March has now become mainstream. Many trends have been accelerated while many accepted practices are being disrupted. The speed of change has quickened in what already seemed like a fast moving world.

This is a mindset issue. We don’t have to accept all the change going on around us but we need to work extra hard to understand what is driving the change, determine if it is permanent or temporary, and, most importantly, how it will impact us, our families, our jobs, our companies,…

Remote work is a good example of this. Over the past 3 months, as shelter in place rules went into effect, finance teams all over the world have been thrust into a Work From Home (WFH) environment. Most finance leaders I have spoken to, reacted quickly to enable their teams to WFH. Transformations that were accomplished in an incredibly short timeframe.

As we move into a Post Covid-19 mindset, many are starting to ask questions like:

  • What do our employees enjoy and dislike about WFH?
  • How does the company benefit and how is it harmed with a WFH option?
  • Do we have measures in place to help us understand if we are improving and learning as a team and individually?
  • How important are proximity and face to face conversations to creating trust, teaming and building rapport?
  • How do we need to adjust our communication and workflows in a WFH environment?
  • Is there a hybrid in office/WFH model that fits our employees and business best?

What changes are you most concerned about? What questions are you asking to understand their impact?

Economic turmoil. Who isn’t asking questions like how will I, my family and my company be affected financially by the economic uncertainty we are facing? Is my job and/or my partner’s job safe? If not or if I don’t know, what then?

Change – The Great Elixir for Solving Problems

When it comes to our financial well-being, change goes hand in hand with risk management. For most of us our economic risk profile has become more volatile in the past 5 months. How do we combat the new reality many of us are facing? Once again, mindset is a remedy to broaden our options and reduce the stress caused by uncertainty. I’ll explain this further by using an example.

Here is the story of how one professional I know is managing this risk. She is changing by diversifying her work portfolio. For the past five years she has run a successful practice providing creative services to smaller companies. Early into the pandemic she recognized an opportunity to develop a small manufacturing business that grew out of some home projects she had completed. She viewed this new company as a way to diversify the risk that some of her creative agency clients may not recover from the economic collapse caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, over the past month, she was fortunate enough to accept a full time job that is able to accommodate both her creative agency and manufacturing business. She has created options to help her maintain her economic security.

There is a lesson for finance leaders and for individuals in this story.

For finance leaders, it’s important to understand that members of your team have employement options. As their work portfolio appears more risky to them they may feel forced to exercise their employment options. Being at their side, rather than being a bystander, while they come to grips with this will help you react more effectively to their needs.

For individuals, it’s important to take stock of the talents and skills you have that are “salable”. They are likely much broader than simply the technical skills you bring to your job each day. Consider these “untapped” talents and skills as part of your work portfolio. Also don’t forget to work on building skills. Create a Professional Development Plan (PDP). It doesn’t have to be fancy, just thoughtful. Information that will map out the path you will use to fill in the blanks on your resume or CV. Here is a template you can use for your PDP. These actions will help you prepare to succeed in a job market whose pace of change is accelerating.

The year 2020 has the potential to be “The year that changed the world.” This gets us back to that “change” word again. It’s an exciting word, a scary word. To change means replacing something we are familiar with, with something new and unfamiliar.

At the end of the day, no matter how scary or unfamiliar it looks, there is no choice. If I am going to help change the world, I am going to have to change.

Change is the great elixir for solving problems.


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