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5 Leadership Lessons from COVID World

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

In mid-February 2020, I started paying attention. By March 1st, I saw the impending train wreck. From March 16th to now, I’ve learned and established some important lessons that are helping me, as a leader and a follower, as a partner and an individual. I’m not giving advice here. I’m simply sharing what is working for me on the daily in case it is helpful to you.

1) Each morning, I acknowledge the fear in order to do my best in the fight. I recognize it, and I call it out. This ensures it can’t rush up and take me by surprise during the day – or it helps prevent at least some of that. I see it, I name it, sometimes I say it out loud, and this helps me handle it.

2) Every single day, I’m paying double the amount of attention to the mental health and wellness of myself first, and then those around me – my family, my friends, my team. I start with the assumption that everyone is hurting to some degree, no matter how they share or convey it, and I go from there. 3) Each day, I make the choice to accept and embrace the unknown as motivation and opportunity. I was wrong before when I thought I could see over the horizon, confident it was clear. Just as I would be wrong today to think I can see over the horizon, and it is murky. Now is what we know, the future is what we create. In our company, we made the decision to stay in the fight, rather than shut down, believing restaurants are essential to serve our communities and wanting to keep our business alive. 4) I have blown up and replaced many of my pre-COVID world paradigms and ways of processing, rebuilding a construct that works in this rapidly changing and insanely steep, learning-curve environment. Now, I need less analysis, less debate, and more just do it. And then fast opinion-forming and decision-making. One of those decisions has been to pivot to a market and grocery, which we did in the 18 days from March 16th to April 4th. There was zero time or bandwidth for well-considered business plans and new business launch strategies.

5) The resiliency and value of a relationship can be difficult to measure in good times, yet it becomes insanely important to have and know in tough times. Now, it is more apparent than ever that I can’t do it alone, without my wife, my biz partner, my true friends, my team. Having a solid company culture in place, surrounding myself with good, dependable peeps, and fostering true connection and teamwork continues to serve me well during these Covid days, and frankly, is saving me and our company.

My overall approach is clear: The destruction, the fear, and what feels like low odds of success don’t necessarily have to have any effect on my outcomes. It is on me to set aside all of the reasons I should fail – and there are many – and focus on controlling what I can control. This motivates me. The challenge, the must-dos: These are my fuel. They guide my focus and drive my actions.


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