Retail Observer

August 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 43 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM AUGUST 2020 44 M oments of crisis offer us opportunities to pivot and evolve. The big difference today is that many of us are being forced to evolve. But it's worth remembering that the choice to change is always there – our work, our leadership and our businesses are in a constant state of dynamic evolution. We're making it up as we're living it – the business, the vocation, the life, the future. Lately I'm noticing lots of paradoxes. They include living at the intersection of stress and innovation, attention to global and hyper-local views, caring for others and oneself, leaders who are taking care of what's directly in front of them and reconfiguring their longer-term plans, and entrepreneurs who are pivoting their offerings while keeping the soul of their business intact. One of the most vital strengths of our humanity is that we're able to reconcile what's paradoxical. We have a unique ability to hold multiple simultaneous, seemingly absurd and sometimes contradicting truths together. And by using this ability we discover new truths. Some call this "wisdom." It's a level of thinking that goes beyond the usual binary either/or, this/ that, us/them. Part of our unique gifts is our ability to straddle the tension of yes/and. SOME HUMAN PARADOXES: • We value progress, yet progress requires change, and we tend not to like change – especially when it's forced upon us. • We need constraints to unearth our own productive creativity, but we rebel against those constraints. • We expect reason and logic to impact the decisions of others, yet we're aware that our own decisions are emotional. It's worth a reminder that we are built for hard things like living with paradoxes. Some paradox examples in our work: • A business leader who's afraid and courageous in the face of the unpredictable future, with all its unknowns. • A team of overachievers who can remain open and vulnerable to chance-taking and growth. • A new product that's both quickly created and valuable – or unique to your brand and differentiated. So how do you work with a paradox? Imagine for a moment that you're holding a strategy meeting to sort through a wide variety of data, concepts and solutions aimed at overcoming a singular challenge. Multiple truths and realities (data, perspectives, feedback) are presented. Call your attention to the center of these realities and ask yourself if, at the heart of all these truths, there's a new truth that wants to emerge? Is a new both/and perspective emerging? A new view? A new approach? A new way forward that the data alone can't show you? THE FREEDOM PARADOX AT WORK The freedom paradox says: "The way to expand our freedom is to constrict our focus." From this place we can stay focused on restraining our finances to realize our financial freedom. We can stay focused on learning in order to earn "awareness freedom." We can stay focused on great marketing to achieve market freedom. Only by standing in the center of the paradox can you evolve to a new way of thinking and being. Think of the New Deal instigated by FDR (banking, fiscal, securities reform, along with plans to repeal prohibition – all framed in the first 100 days). Think of the iPhone. Think of how Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, Tesla, Google, Zappos and Nike came about. By standing in the center of the paradox and choosing to do something new, an evolution will occur. This is where you evolve. Next to necessity, paradox just might be the kid brother of invention. Your reinvention could be called your "forward now." Evolution doesn't ask that you stop being yourself. It invites you to find your way back to the truer version of yourself or your business. Moving forward often looks like peeling off the stuff that's weighing you down and doesn't matter, in order to get to the things that do. Your evolution asks you to be true to yourself and to serve the new needs of the world of now. I promise, it's worth all the hard work. You are purpose-built for the challenge. The world needs you and your business more than ever. Put yourself in the calm center of the dizzying chaos around you, and embrace the yes/and possibilities of your work, your business, your culture and your brand. For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazine. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or RO Steven Morris On Brand WORKING BEYOND ABSOLUTES

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