We’re past Labor Day weekend and the “Hot Vax” summer has seamlessly transitioned into “Back to School/Back to the Office” life. We’re almost back to those 2019 school buses, cubicles and bridge-and-tunnel vibes!
We are, instead somewhere in our fourth (or fifth?) COVID wave, with lots of office opening delays and ample school anxiety. And, while we may have been able to compartmentalize work and home in the before times, it just isn’t possible now. For us as individuals and as professional services providers, we are just going to have to “Embrace the Suck” as the military mantra goes.
The Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Bernstein recently authored the piece, “How to Deal With Stress in Your Life: Embrace It,” where she broke down the expression:
My Uncle Sidney, a retired U.S. Navy physician and Vietnam veteran, has a military phrase he uses as advice for what to do when life is lousy: Embrace the Suck.
He’s dispensed this colorful guidance to me in several stressful situations—when I’ve been anxious on deadline, dealing with a difficult family member, and, most recently, struggling through the pandemic.
“The point is, when you’re stuck, surrounded or suffering, you need to assess where you are, learn to live with it, and try to advance,’’ Uncle Sidney says.
From a media relations standpoint, nearly every story is seen through COVID-tinted glasses. To break through, it’s crucial that thought leaders avoid trying to act as though a total “reset” button has been pressed. This massive elephant remains firmly in the room, despite our best efforts to move it along, and is spawning media-rich developments like vaccine mandates, health care surcharges and employee testing.
Individually, or as a firm, you may not want to talk about the pandemic; but, you really can’t not.
Collectively, we remain in a lousy situation. However, as the pandemic grinds on, there are emerging “winners” and maybe not “losers,” but definitely folks who missed their media rocket rides.
What are the consistent elements of success?
- Availability and willingness to express uncertainty.
- Being a quick study.
- Understanding that today’s media topic du jour can be displaced in minutes, with stories scrapped as new information becomes available.
COVID’s waves have had media topic counterparts: bankruptcy, tax, labor and employment, health care, more tax, more labor and employment, traditional labor, etc… As we continue to wind our way (hopefully soon!) toward the exit, opportunities will remain abundant.
Professional services thought leaders and practice and industry group heads also need to guard against the karmic drag of the pandemic sapping their creative spirit and entrepreneurial focus.
Later in the article Bernstein quotes Dr. Robyn D. Walser, an assistant clinical professor in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, on the importance of staying focused, “‘Just because there are these super-wicked problems in the world does not mean you give up on what matters to you.”
What matters personally is paramount, but, what matters for your firm and your practice is also crucial. Business development plans inked in 2019, early 2020 or even last September need to be revised. New goals need to be set. And a willingness to ride the wave of a news cycle where you can’t always give definitive answers needs to be embraced to help for you and your brand to stand out – and, ultimately, advance.