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The Comeback Kids

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South Africa

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“Misery loves company” so the saying goes - and in the age of Covid that seems to be the gravitational force that currently drives social and media conversations. Our attention is being continuously siloed toward the latest business failure, business rescue and somebody we know being adversely affected by the pandemic. It’s alarming yes, it’s frightening in some instances and very sobering especially if you’re personally affected. But it does concern me that we aren’t as individuals, a society and in the media spending enough time ALSO celebrating the successes, inspirational stories and turn arounds during this time. There are some minor public efforts to give kudos to individuals who’ve thrived during this time, or come up with a “cool idea” on a segment at the end of the news hour. Also some global news networks have been grabbing sound bytes from CEO’s to “share” a smidgen of their experience.

If you take a close look through history though, many organisations, countries, individuals and companies have literally risen like a Phoenix out of the ashes of adversity. More recently there are great business examples such as Slack, Whatsapp and Airbnb - all born just post the credit crunch fuelled by the housing bubble in 2008. Looking further back in time to the Great Depression between 1929 and 1932, both Disney and Revlon made names for themselves, rolling out Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie” and the world’s first  pigment-based red nail polish respectively. It’s very likely that out of Covid we will in the future be telling the story of the vaccine developers, the companies and individuals who became heroes in this time too.

The point I’m making is that resilience, grit, innovation and super-charged thinking are all required when facing adversity. If we constantly focus on the negative, we will float around in this swirl of disaster thinking – or as the quacks call it – catastrophizing. If we want to shift the narrative (I know it’s overused, but you get it) we must start to draw attention to the successes, the sparks of innovation, from the past and the present and realise that business and humanity as a whole have faced greater adversity than a pandemic. Who are the “Comeback Kids” that have turned their businesses or themselves around and reinvented and reinvigorated their business giving purpose and inspiration to their staff, suppliers and customers? Not just in the past but in the present…

Let’s talk about that. Let’s celebrate the human spirit more vividly by making that the “headline” of our conversation and not the current mortality rate. Take Lekua Sehoana for example - the founder of dripfootwear – retailing kicks in 5 major malls and online. His twitter profile reads “Our Sneakers are what Township Dreams and Stories look like… Let’s explore and adapt the tools of this individual and other titans for our benefit, in business and in our personal lives. Let’s write the script of the movie we want to star in. It’s a celebration movie of the human spirit, of rising from the ashes, and putting one’s name on the plaque that reads – I’m a Comeback Kid.

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