In Switzerland, slowly we are awakening from a state of hibernation. In this issue of my Letter of Inspiration you will find thoughts on how to use the void between stillness and re-start, why the medieval poet Dante plays a role in this, and what Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has to do with the term "New Humility". Enjoy reading.

What now - Action?

The lockdown put basically the world in a kind of "hibernation". This with the only difference that we were fully awake with a clear mind during this hibernation. If one observed the reactions in society, two groups surfaced: the activists and the paralyzed. Even though we are not trained for an exceptional situation like this, the one part tried to continue its great drive for action, the other part was paralyzed by the wave of uncertainty.

We cannot yet fully imagine the economic damage caused by this pandemic. What is visible, however, are the health consequences. The virus claims victims, but the so-called lockdown also has a major impact on the mental health and well-being of many individuals.

The isolation is slowly being lifted, but everyday life suddenly seems like a visit to the zoo: Normally thick glass screens or fences protects us from the wild animals - now it is gloves, masks and a minimum safety distance of 2 meters which is supposed to protect us from an invisible danger.

Loss of Closeness

Can business relationships be maintained remotely or is there a risk of developing a similar relationship with our partners as with the animals in the zoo (i.e. none)? Distance cannot simply be resolved digitally. It makes "survival" easier for us, but life in digitality has its limits. Especially when it comes to the human factor. Through the forced reduction of our sensory perception in those digital interactions we are currently losing something that is essential: our intuition.

Rethinking the Existing

Of course, the current situation makes me wonder whether, with all these serious events, and times of lockdown and despair allow us to address intuition and the sharpening of perception. I believe that right now the subject of intuition is more important than ever. Not only does the lockdown confront almost all of us with an increased awareness about (the changes in) ourselves, our lives, our fears, nature, the world around us and our interactions. Fortunately there are people who are not in poor health or seriously affected economically. Doers who are used to acting, they too are caught in this empty state between stagnation and progress and have a right to speak and receive positive thoughts.

I would place these people in a third group, alongside the activists and the paralyzed: the considered. They use the void moment, between stagnation and progress, and reflect. It wouldn't surprise me if insights were to emerge in the process that question the unstoppable hunger for continuous growth, for consumption of goods, but also I believe the relationships and communication between fellow human-beings will be questioned. Do you really have to attend every meeting in person? Or to every company apéro or summit? And does it need the new "whatever"? Reflection increases the awareness of scarcity of our time and how to make the best use of it. Suddenly it is all about powerful conversations which stimulate and activate you. Rather less, but a valuable exchange. Not just any conversation, but one that matters for you or triggers something in you.

Rest, Reflection, New Beginning.

So, we have rested, gathered our thoughts and are ready to start again. What should we look forward to? Developing together will be essential in the phase to come because if times of crisis are good for anything, it's for reflecting about our own strengths. And this also shows where we need trustworthy supporters.

Existing concepts for success must now likely be reconsidered for most of us and translated into the new context in which we are finding ourselves. However, new thoughts do not emerge in familiar surroundings or in one's own comfort zone, but rather in a controversial exchange with people from other disciplines and idustriers. If you open your eyes, inspiration from other industries can reach you. Whether it is in the creative process of designers who process the current situation in their product variations, or the creativity with which restaurants have reacted to the lockdown. These impulses can be inspiration for you or translated into your own business.

It is no coincidence that the medieval poet Dante Alighieri was accompanied by a trusted friend on his way from “hell to paradise”. In Dante's case this was Virgil. Virgil was a faithful companion, who listened to Dante and guided him. Virgil symbolizes Dante's "intuition". This pandemic was unforeseeable and its size and consequences are still uncertain. That we feel uncertainty is okay, but you don't have to go through it alone. Whereas we are all in the same situation, it is possible to let go of the ego-centeredness and allow others to be involved. That was the moment when Dante met Virgil; an interlocutor who listened, who together with Dante found deep clarity on the core issues, sharpened Dante’s intuition and pointed out paths of action to master the way from "hell to paradise". Virgil - the intuition - is an underestimated weapon in the moments of crisis, which is worth (re-)activating.

The good news is that intuition can be developed and strengthened. We have already begun the journey from hell to paradise. We will only take this demanding and unknown path by opening our own perspective and give space to new thoughts. One carries the thought buds for this within oneself; to let them blossom, one needs the right impulses. The curating of such impulses is my core business and can be seen in events like the Zero Senses Retreat or in individual accompaniment. In 2 ½ days, the retreat format offers natural leaders a firework of impulses from other areas and creates a bridge to application in their own everyday work. The next event will take place in autumn and you can register here for further details.

What has inspired me recently: New humility

Sustainability will probably be named as the “non-word of the year” soon. Every entrepreneur, but also almost all friends have the same opinion "Yes, we have to do something...". There are wild ideas on how to implement sustainable aspects in companies and ultimately in our life. One strives for an ISO certification for his company, the other buys only regional products, while another refrains from flying within the EU, but enjoys his avocado toast every morning (by the way, anyone wondered how avocados get from Mexico to Switzerland?). I was lucky enough to experience what sustainability means in holistic terms, when I temporarily lived in the Netherlands a few months ago.
Obviously, the consequences of climate change will directly affect cities like Amsterdam, which lie below sea level. Although I am convinced, that this is not the only reason, this country is closely connected to nature and the fate of the latter. It is apparent in their holistic approach through emobility, the generally healthy lifestyle, and an amazingly high number of impact startups and sustainable food concepts.
Jack Bean, a vegan fast food start-up: One of the founders, a star chef from Rotterdam, wanted to prove the fact that vegan food tastes good, easy to make and sustainable to produce. This young team uses only products grown in the region (i.e., no avocado or quinoa). They have a digital ordering process via tablets and tableware from renewable materials. Their target group are men who want to eat healthily, without giving up on taste. Of course, Jack Bean offers home delivery too, but only by bike or e-scooter and in recyclable boxes. A holistic concept with a great potential.

With this, my Letter of Inspiration comes to an end… Thank you for joining me on the way to more clarity. If you like this episode, please feel free to share it with like-minded colleagues and friends, encouraging them to subscribe!