“Imagination is more important than knowledge” ~ Albert Einstein
These days, there are few distractions on my desk; yet a small bauble holds this favorite quote closer to me than ever before.
Over the last several months, as we have experienced probably the most widely impactful event in most of our lifetimes, this quote has helped me help others to move forward and beyond our current circumstances.
For imagination is an important part of resilience and innovation.
I truly believe that innovation and entrepreneurial thinking are the keys to thriving economies throughout the world.
At the same time, it is through our challenges that we experience opportunities to grow, imagine various outcomes, take new actions, become even more resilient, and inspire others to become even better human beings through our example.
Challenges are necessary for innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to exist.
In many cases, most people will not explore new options or release things that no longer benefit them UNTIL they experience severe challenges.
Who knew that a lively little opportunistic virus could create such havoc and opportunity in such a short time… I would venture that it would more likely be anyone who has overcome and moved beyond their circumstances.
Our circumstances do not have to define us.
Personally, I would have given up a long time ago if this were true. Fortunately, even in the face of my own overwhelming challenges; something gave me faith that there was a better future on the other side of the situations I found myself in.
Maybe it is what I have learned over the years that has given me such a calm approach to all of the chaos, confusion, adjustments, new information, frantic reactions, multiple pivots in perspective, etc. that have been emerging from people around the world as well as those in my community.
Believe me; in no way shape or form do I think I have all the answers.
Yet, I do know that I have built up the ability to imagine a lot of the questions that help me and others figure out how to navigate our circumstances. To move forward… to move beyond them.
It is also how I am wired and how I am meant to serve.
You see, while my business can be classified as a “marketing firm” with expertise in “marketing automation” as well as “business, marketing, and sales strategy” while using “technology” and other tools; that is not why my clients work with me. While in many ways I think like a behavioral economist (think “Freakanomics”), that is just the cherry on top.
This COVID-19 pandemic has helped me realize that the true value of what I bring to my clients is the ability to:
• Immerse myself in and understand their vision and passion
• Explore the reality of their circumstances and let them know they have been heard
• Collaboratively discover the opportunities, challenges, and potential unintended consequences
• Translate what their options are based upon innovative as well as sound business practices
• Calmly evaluate with them the priorities and what it will take to move forward
• Create a game plan that allows for flexibility, phases, and the ability to prototype before going all in on an initiative
• Understand how humans use decision-making in normal times as well as in a crisis
• Know the processes that incentivize people to make mutually beneficial decisions and take action
• Make those priorities happen
Now, you might say that all business consultants do this; however, I wonder… when so many clearly are all about their best interest, their objectives, their chaos, and their need to be right rather than what will best serve their clients right now and in the future.
It helps me to make decisions and re-prioritize based upon current information.
Every one of my clients, as well as my own businesses, have had to pivot.
In many cases, multiple times.
It did not matter how many years they have had their business online – everywhere from just getting started to decades.
So far, the common thread we have used to make those decisions has been “What do your customers and/or clients need most from your business?”
This simple question has helped us look beyond the current circumstances and explore the “new normal” that truly no one really knows yet.
• What could that future hold?
• What are the challenges they are dealing with?
• What new beliefs and perspectives do they have? What prior ones are still true for them?
• What are they telling themselves that could be standing in their way?
Ultimately, by focusing on the people we are meant to serve, we can pave a way.
We can imagine. We can innovate. We can leverage what we already have to bring new, exciting solutions to the people who need us most.
Or we can remain stuck focusing on our circumstances.
• Pushing our own fear-ridden agendas that ultimately do not serve us, our businesses, our customers and/or clients… let alone our communities
• Not taking time to refuel, regroup, or refresh our minds, bodies, and souls so we can allow our imagination to reboot our creativity
• Staying pessimistic, fearful, closed off, and full of excuses as to why we can’t take action
• Prioritizing dis-ease and drama in the face of the global impact of a highly contagious disease
Here is a new word for you to explore… “virus-crisis”; which goes far beyond the reality of this pandemic and the impacts and opportunities it has created.
As a friend of mine said recently, “Not buying into the fear is a tough job, but someone has to hold the light”.
Personally, I think it is the only way we move forward and move beyond this and future crises.
P.S. One of the things I placed a “pause button” on as we navigate the initial parts of this pandemic, lockdown, and re-opening of the economy is my new podcast “Automation Works: Revisited”. It will be a commentary of what has changed, evolved, and is still important over the last 4 years since I wrote my best-selling book. It is coming soon and you can sign up today to receive my blog posts and podcast episodes.
Kathy Swanson’s vision is to support thriving entrepreneurship and innovation within businesses by creating strategies and systems that help them attract and retain the highest value buyers in the shortest time at the lowest cost. As Founder and President of Integrated Marketing Werx, she helps business owners and their teams traverse the online marketing landscape, use the resources and tools that work for their business, and apply them as easily as possible. An online marketing expert with over 20 years of global, Fortune 500, mid-market, and small business marketing and business experience; she developed the proprietary Get Focused DIY group and Get Growing programs. Kathy is also the author of the #1 Best Seller “Automation Works: Turning Your Marketing from a Money-Pit into a Money-Making MACHINE!“