19 People around the World Share How They Prepare for a Post-COVID-19 World
impactmania emailed with Elizabeth Adams, a Montreal, Canada-based strategic storyteller who has been involved in place-making and story development for mixed-use communities and resorts across North America. While based in Europe, she worked on insight research, strategy and analysis for major global brands. Elizabeth is a partner and mother of two boys, and a self-described serial entrepreneur.
April 22, 2020
What is your advice for preparing for post-COVID-19?
When we come to a standstill in life, when there’s a freeze on all useful activity, a space opens up to the imagination and creative flow. We currently have the time and stillness to step back from our respective canvases, contemplate anew, and return to them with fresh ideas. Artists call this the ‘flow state’ and it’s a place we can all access. I highly recommend giving into your own flow state as often as possible, using this time as an opportunity to give space to the ideas and innovation that spring forth out of necessity.
Use this state to let go of all your experience baggage and traditional limitations. Envision where you see your contribution making the most positive impact – on the world, within your company or field, community, and home. Everything still needs to be done and yet everything needs to be done differently. I think it’s important to give ourselves the freedom to re-examine the constructs within which we’ve been living until now, and reimagine them to better suit the times.
This can include everything from how you work to where you work. All this time for reflection might even lead to a re-examination of what you want to be doing with your time. This has been an opportunity for many of us to realize just how lucky we are, as we see people across the world grappling with the same difficult situation, some with far greater challenges than our own. The feelings this invokes are far-ranging, and I think it’s key to give into them and allow them to reshape your perspective on the world and your place in it.
How is this crisis changing you?
This crisis occurred at an already great shift in my life. Moving back to Canada after seven years in southern Spain, taking over the care of a parent diagnosed with brain cancer, and moving three times in the span of six months. The pandemic hit just as we returned from a Florida vacation (to recoup from the above) with our two boys. The ensuing lockdown, though not a huge departure from my usual freelance lifestyle, turned into a welcome respite from the daily demands of life as a parent, entrepreneur, and caregiver.
Navigating my own flow state, I was able to eventually calm my initial anxiety, and allow the opportunities that lay on this new horizon to reveal themselves. That’s when my own path became clearer – how I can best contribute to the post-COVID world. As a Gen-Xer in the prime of my life, with memories of life on both sides of internet connectivity, the crisis gave me an opportunity to evaluate this next big chapter in our world. It has helped me accept a new direction that I’ve been wanting to go in for some time, but had allowed to take a backseat to what had become my status quo.
The crisis has changed how I perceive my own unique skill set, and most importantly, how I can harness it for the greater good. The three projects I’ve dedicated myself to moving forward have all materialized out of the time this crisis has given me to reflect, and now the way forward is much clearer. I’ve never been so excited and energized to apply these new ideas and build in a direction that reconciles my talents with my desire to make a difference.
What will our story be post-COVID-19?
Post-COVID-19, we will collectively be recovering from a tremendous shock. Some will remain in the stronghold of fear, while others will have learned how to reconcile (or resign) themselves to the changes, while still others will be future-focused, actively creating a brighter tomorrow with like-minded people. In our scramble to “stay safe” yet confidently work toward a better world, we will be required to take responsibility for many of the things we took as givens: education, information, health, and work.
Community will be our strength, and I see it regrowing from the different areas that we’ll be taking back responsibility for. Communities will form around education, changing curriculums to help our children learn essential skills they’re enthusiastic about and will be able to apply. Around information, trusted communities will form to help us wade through the media mire of misinformation and create smaller public spheres where meaningful discussion can take place. Many will turn to traditional means of healing themselves, both emotionally and physically, as hospitals become last resources. Fulfilling work will be found within the networks we create for ourselves, supporting initiatives in line with our core values and beliefs.
The concept of the Global Village, as progressive and exciting as it may have seemed when Marshall McLuhan first coined the term back in the 1960s, has fulfilled on some levels, yet left us wanting on others. Yes, we can connect with people worldwide in an instant and build communities across vast distances. Yet when a crisis hits and we have to rely on those closest to us, we realize what type of village we actually live in.
I see the post-COVID world as one that will, for a time, be informed by the vulnerability we all experienced during this pandemic. It will belong to leaders who understand the need for, and are willing to constantly contribute to a strong community fabric on some level. I see individual communities holding leaders to higher accountability, and innovation driving growth in all areas.
We’ve seen how, in the space of weeks, industry can turn on a dime and innovate to produce emergency supplies to frontline workers in a crisis. I expect we’ll be seeing more innovation in the coming months and years to ensure that our communities, economy, and way of life are better prepared for such extenuating and unpredictable scenarios as the one we’re living now.
impactmania’s past interviews and programs have been featured in international media, a number of universities, US Consulates, the UN, and have been cited by Harvard Business School, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and Duke University Press. impactmania’s Women of Impact program was awarded the U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy grant (2019).