I bought tickets to Hawaii for our family and convinced my husband not to worry about the whole virus thing. I was relishing in the idea of being beachside as the cold weather made its cameo down under. “I am sure it will all blow over by then” were my famous last words.
Rather than blow over, it took over and a few weeks later I was canceling the trip and coming to terms with an entirely new reality like everyone else around the world.
Though we may now be preparing for life after COVID-19 in Australia, the remnants will remain for a long time to come. As with any negative situation, it makes sense to look for the silver lining and as best as possible learn the lessons the experience offered.
For each industry, those lessons will be different. Given my profession resides in the world of personal branding, the lessons are extremely clear. An important point is these particular lessons are vital for everyone in all industries and for that reason I felt it only fair to share them.
Your online persona and profile matters
‘Imagine a world where we are only able to connect online’. I feel as if these words were uttered by someone somewhere some time ago.
Post-COVID, we no longer need to imagine. If you weren’t connecting online during lockdown then you weren’t connecting at all. It suddenly put a new spin on the importance of our online profiles. LinkedIn reported record levels of engagement in the height of COVID-19, which means that LinkedIn profile that you put up years ago and then left there, was more likely to be noticed.
If there is only one personal branding lesson learned from lockdown, it is that your online profile matters.
Personal influence is more important than positional influence
Almost overnight businesses crashed and unemployment soared. Personal identities were thrown into question all over the world. In one moment, an individual may have been a successful business owner enjoying the fruits of their labor, the next minute they were struggling to live off the scraps of what remained.
COVID-19 taught us that positions come and go, but who you are as a person, what you stand for and your ability to influence others by being yourself is all that remains.
Rather than derive your sense of value and importance from where you are standing, it is wise to derive it from who you are as an individual.
As Simon Sinek puts it “There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us.”
Connection is all about intention, not location
COVID-19 has certainly been the first time in my lifetime that I felt the entire world was on the same page. Not a page we wanted to be on but the same page nonetheless.
The darkness of it all has been matched by the light. We have joined in applauding the efforts of health workers internationally and have became vitally aware of the essential role they and teachers play in society. We collectively harnessed the power of video technology and found new ways to stay in touch, celebrate milestones, and even mourn the loss of our loved ones. We all laughed together as we shared hilarious social media memes and discovered even taking out the bin could become a talking point.
We found common ground and connection in so many different things. We were forced to recognise how interdependent we really are and that borders may separate us physically yet we are connected in so many other ways.
What this means is, our ability to connect and reach others all over the world is not determined by where we live, it is completely dependent on our intention and motivation to leverage technology in productive and positive ways.
For many, the experience of COVID-19 is still extremely painful and too raw to even contemplate any positive outcome or lesson. I accept that and understand as much as we are all in this together, our individual experiences have not been the same. It is important we allow ourselves to process it all in our own time.
I only hope that along the way, each of us really does embrace the lessons that are relevant to who we are and what we do because as they say ‘some of the most important life lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way.’