“Well I was sitting, waiting, wishing – You believed in superstitions – Then maybe you’d see the signs” – Jack Johnson.

These are the opening words of a song by Jack Johnson. 

Perception is often seen as reality. Let me explain. A number of years ago, I heard an interview with the pro-surfer turned singer who grew up in Hawaii.  He spoke about his life as a surfer and how many stories about surfing used the phrase “wishing, watching and waiting”. In my mind I naturally assumed that the song was about sitting on your surfboard, waiting and wishing for the great waves.

The second link in the chain is that living in Perth, and having an office near the beach, I often go for a run or walk along the beachfront before work. The Perth beachfront stretches many kilometers and has many popular surfing spots. In the context of the life of Jack Johnson, these are probably not comparable to the surfing waves in Hawaii.

Looking out forlornly at the ocean

However, every time I am on the beachfront, I see many groups of surfers staring out at the ocean and I think of the words of Jack Johnson’s song as these surfers are most certainly waiting and wishing.

Before I get shouted down, I recently found out that the song was actually inspired by the singer’s friend who was unsuccessfully pursuing a young lady.

That does not change the context of how I see the relevance of the words “sitting, waiting and wishing”.  Probably in the context of 2020 and covid-19 the meaning of the words increase in relevance.

Without overstating the obvious, 2020 has been a nightmare of a year for pretty much the whole world.

Since the global pandemic began in the early part of 2020, there have been a variety of strategies employed. There are unfortunately those families that have been impacted with death, illness or loss of income or employment. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those people.

On the positive side, there are many people and organizations that will emerge from this pandemic leaner, fitter and stronger.

On the weekend of March 13th this year, I attended the Professional Speakers Australia conference in Adelaide. This represented one industry but was a mirror on our global community.  For the majority of delegates their businesses evaporated in a matter of days with conferences and training being cancelled on a global scale. There were many other businesses and industries that dried up in an instant.

The question is how people and organizations reacted to this crisis. Initially, we saw people sitting, waiting and wishing. We saw a very delayed subdued reaction, almost akin to the stages of grief.

This is the challenge of Q4 2020

This is the challenge as we head into the last quarter of 2020. There are still people sitting, wishing and waiting. This is not a strategy. As the world eventually emerges from this crisis those who reacted and adjusted to the normal will most certainly emerge stronger, leaner and fitter.

On a global level, I believe the wishing and waiting strategies are highly prevalent in the numerous statements around “when a vaccine is released”. Obviously the more than 170 companies globally that are racing to bring a covid-19 vaccine to market are not waiting and wishing. Living in the Australian bubble that is fairly insulated from the rampant spread around the world, we are constantly exposed to politicians suggesting that travel and other restrictions will somehow be dependent on a successful vaccine launch.

Pivot” and “unprecedented” – the words of 2020

There is a joke going around that every time you hear some say a statement that contains the words “pivot” and “unprecedented” in the same sentence you need to have a drink. This might account for the massive increase in alcohol consumption over this year.

On a more serious level, there are definitely companies and individuals that have shifted (or pivoted) to make themselves more adaptable.

On a personal level, I addressed the idea of being able to present training and keynotes to geographically spread participants. This necessitated me upgrading to a studio environment where I can present to audiences whilst standing and using multiple camera angles.  The first is to allow me to use a big portion of the energy for each presentation more efficiently when presenting as if you are on stage (i.e. standing). The second is the try and mimic the “live effect” where as a speaker I move around the stage and audience.

By the same token, larger organizations that have adapted to remote working and learning will find that one the challenges of the future will be the development of teams and shared cultures. This is significantly impacted by the team members not being in the same physical locations and not having social bonding time.  Some fellow futurists believe that in a post covid world the corporate office will be replaced by remote working with a few gatherings during the year where team members get to build and strengthen social and business connections.

sitting, wishing and waiting is not a strategy

In concluding, I believe that the quicker that people and organizations begin to really and truly embrace the change, the quicker that they will begin to see the new normal as something stronger, leaner and fitter. The successful realise that sitting, wishing and waiting is not a strategy, but agility and acceptance of change are the strategies of the future

“The references to Sitting, wishing and waiting” are taken from the song title by Jack Johnson.