Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Trevor E. S. Smith | Getting back on track: Post-COVID-19 realities

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 12:32 AM

I had to travel by train to keep an appointment. I missed the switch and failed to keep the appointment. It was a humbling experience.

Why am I telling you this story? It has implications for many of us today.

I went off track. I lost my way. I did not achieve my objective. I found myself in a place that I had no desire to be. It is a situation that was fraught with frustration and disappointment.

I suspect that many of us are facing a similar sense of being off track. The ‘new normal’ is still unsettling and uneasy for us. Our visit to our present location was not on our agenda – yet we are very much there.

It might be helpful if I shared lessons from my train experience.

First, I want to examine three things that can cause us to go off track:

1. Failing to pay sufficient attention to signs.

2. Failing to be absolutely clear about how to get to our destination.

3. Failinto reach out for help in a timely manner.

1. Inattentiveness; failing to pay sufficient attention to signs

As painful as this might be, some of the things we face when we go off track are as a result of the fact that we have not paid sufficient attention to things that we should have looked at more carefully. One sure way to lose our way is to stop paying attention to important details. Did we miss something that would have made a difference now?

2. Failing to be absolutely clear about how to get to our destination

I was overconfident when getting the instructions. One perennial problem with communication is that both the speaker and hearer make assumptions about the level of understanding of the hearer. It was clear to us that I had got it, but I had not. What are/were your goals? Do/did you have crystal clarity as to how to achieve them – no matter what?

3. Failing to reach out for help in a timely manner

Asking for help is sometimes deemed to be an admission of inadequacy. Many of us prefer to forge ahead on our own, even though we might be lost.

Does any of this sound familiar? We get off track because we opt to go it alone when timely action from a third party might have made all the difference.

So, we have examined why we go off track. Going off track by losing focus, by not being clear about where the track is, and by refusing to seek help to find the track and end up being lost.

I want to suggest five basic steps for getting back on track.

Step 1: Recognise that we are off track early. Some people are only jolted into the reality of their situation by dramatic changes in their circumstances. Recovery is more challenging then. Pick up the early warning signs!

Step 2: Be guided by reliable standards. An excellent place to start is with the scriptures. Using a principled framework is far better than comparing yourself to others or using your own measuring devices.

Step 3: Examine what is different about where we are and where we ought to be. This includes asking questions about the fundamental principles related to the issues that are challenging us. Are there obstacles that have crept in that will hinder our forward progress? What is different about the current picture and the blueprint?

Step 4: Commit to seeking permanent solutions rather than doing patchwork. We should seek to embrace new horizons and function at higher levels. Address issues at the most fundamental level. Apply First Principles.

Step 5: Come to a deeper understanding of teamwork and how working with others can help us to get back on track and attain challenging objectives. The power of rallying the group to perform at higher levels must be clearly appreciated and accepted.

Trevor E. S. Smith – Success with People Academy. High-performance team behavioural coach| Executive team & CEO adviser| Team dynamics & engagement expert| Sales team activator | Technology solutions provider | Behavioural assessments facilitator.