Retail Observer

December 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 DECEMBER 2020 44 F or most people, this year has been a doozy. And I'm not going to say "unprecedented" or "extraordinary" or "weird," because we've grown tired of those words, but you get the picture. We've just never been here before, and no matter your industry or size, every business owner, manager and leader has had to ask hard questions, make tough decisions, an show deeper levels of understanding and compassion. In addition to the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, many communities in the U.S. have been faced with social unrest and bigger questions about how we show up as people in our work and in our communities. The end of a year and the beginning of another is a transition time, a threshold time. We haven't yet crossed over to what's new, but we've not left what's old. The in-between times can be tricky, confusing and unsettling. And this calls us to be even more courageous in our conversations, even more compassionate, even more understanding. We all want clarity and confirmation about what's to come, but in truth, sometimes we can only imagine that idealized future and point ourselves toward it. We take one step, then another. When I was a young child, my father taught me to sail. I remember how interesting, how fascinating, it was for me to learn that one small adjustment of the tiller or the sails meant that we could either end up exactly where we wanted to go, or way off course. He taught me about navigation and keeping my eyes on the horizon, and making small, tiny adjustments to keep us on track. Right now, those small and tiny adjustments may bring about grand changes in the future, or just help us navigate the most recent events. Regardless, there are two primary questions we need to reflect upon and allow to lead not only our self-assessment, but our eventual actions. In times of change, stress, strife, trouble and transition, we need to ask these two things: 1. Where do we go from here? 2. What's uniquely mine to do? The context doesn't really matter: it could be the news of a big change of leadership in your organization, it could be a shift in the market or in your customer base, it could be a reorganization of community, family or country, but the real important notion is this: if you want to show up as your best self, to do your best work, no matter your role, these two questions are critical. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? When we ask this question, it implies that we understand what's happening, and we accept the truth of it. We are not in denial about the details or the facts. We examine the situation, the scenario, and we say, "Okay, I see where we are . . . now, where do we go from here?" Some clients have dealt with layoffs, decline in revenues, total redesign of the way they do business, increased stress and pressure on their people, political upheaval that impacts funding or resources. If this is simply the truth of what's happening in your world, then what's next? What is the aspirational, inspirational future you will design and work towards? WHAT'S UNIQUELY MINE TO DO? We all bring different talents and levels of experience to any situation. One client, a manufacturer of wonderful travel bags, quickly pivoted their business not only to sew masks for personal protection, they continued to research the best fabrics and designs and set in place a "buy one-donate one" option for their already loyal customers. This was uniquely theirs to do. Another company whose primary purpose was to provide branded items, gifts and awards, ordinarily worked with event planners and clients who were organizing conferences, retreats, award ceremonies and company stores. In the beginning, their business dropped dramatically, then they began considering their very specific mission, which was to help companies recognize people and offer very cool gifts. They redesigned their business to provide items to support working from home, sanitization and protective gear. Because their unique identity is rooted in creativity, they got creative and saved their business. Perhaps even more significantly, when you ask yourself this very personal question – what is uniquely mine to do? – you must look and listen deeply to what matters most, and how you will leave things better for your having been there. Every day, no matter our age, our work, or our location, we are creating our legacy. What's yours? TWO QUESTIONS FOR TROUBLED AND TRANSITION TIMES Libby Wagner Culture Coach RO Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain profit cultures.

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