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“Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched on the Nose”

‘Iron’ Mike Tyson has shaken up the sports world over the last few weeks as he announced a grand return to the sport of boxing, albeit for charity exhibition bouts only. It’s an admirable move, especially as he’s planning to donate 100% of his purse to charity, but one has to ask has he really thought this through?

The ‘Baddest man on the planet’ famously said that “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the nose”, and I can’t help but wonder if he’s forgotten his own quote. He’s 53 years of age, and rumor has it he’s set to fight the current Heavyweight World Champ, Tyson Fury. Iron Mike has been training hard, and he looks to be in phenomenal shape, but truthfully, a punch in the nose seems almost inevitable.

Business stands to learn a lesson from this situation. We all started out thinking that 2020 was sure to be ‘our year’, and then look at what happened. Now, I didn't plan to make this all about COVID. In fact, I think the phrases ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘new normal’ have lost all meaning through sheer overuse.

But we do need to address the fact that while we’ve never faced situations like this before, it wasn’t unexpected; top scientists have been warning us for years that a pandemic was coming, and still, the world economy ground to a halt. If we didn’t have a plan then, we sure as hell better come up with one in preparation for next time. Resilience will be key.

For the businesses that are fortunate enough to see this through, how will your plan survive contact with ‘the punch’? Do you believe that furloughed workers will just stroll back into the office upon reopening and pick right up where they left off?

If you answered yes to these questions, you might as well take your chances in the ring with Iron Mike, too.

But if not, your resilience instinct is correct, as you realise that without realigning the workforce, there is simply no way that your operational plan can run efficiently. For starters, you can’t be sure that all of your employees are even feeling that the work environment is safe to return to! Beyond that, internal and external relationships have been on pause for weeks, hot leads have gone cold, client budgets have evaporated, regulations have changed, and it’s your job to bring everybody up to speed.

Clear, consistent messaging will be key. People have had enough of flaky instructions from those who are supposed to know what they’re doing. They’ve seen people in positions of authority demonstrating clear double standards, while they have struggled emotionally and financially under the weight of lockdown. Make it your business to win them over again. Make them remember why they came to work for you in the first place. Do this right, and you’ll quickly be back on the road to success.

In boxing parlance, fitness achieved, gumshields in, head guards fitted, now ready for the challenge of tackling the metaphorical punch on the nose!


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