Living in interesting times – turn the ostrich into an opportunity

There’s an old Chinese curse. Actually, there are lots of Chinese curses, but the one that springs to mind and seems most appropriate for 2020 goes something like this … “may you live in interesting times!”

There’s an old Chinese curse. Actually, there are lots of Chinese curses, but the one that springs to mind and seems most appropriate for 2020 goes something like this … “may you live in interesting times!”

The origin of the curse is debatable, (is it really Chinese or just a fortune cookie prophecy?) but in 1966 Robert Kennedy gave a speech in Cape Town where he used the phrase but then went on to explain what he thought it meant.

“Interesting times,” he said, are “times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.”

It’s a mad, mad world

We certainly are living in interesting times.

We’ve gone through riots and demonstrations around the world looking for democracy, freedom and human rights.

We’ve started trade wars and almost witnessed a real life world war.

We’ve witnessed a continent on fire!

We’ve ignored obscene breaches of human rights and had to endure the banality of “Brexit with Boris” – a twisted kind of children’s freak show.

And we’re still yawning our way through the long-running reality TV show with the orange one and two septuagenarians, called “Let’s Beat The Don” that’s fast become the divisive destruction of American democracy.

The power of a pandemic

As if this wasn’t enough, we now have to deal with a global pandemic. Or not deal with it depending on what and who you want to believe.

Attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 now include unprecedented lockdowns, restrictions to international and national travel and something called ‘social distancing’ and ‘shelter-in-place.’

This is affecting us all and Indonesia is by no means exempt.

Needless to say, the COVID-19 Pandemic has had, and will to continue to have, negative effects on our daily lives as well as local and global economies. Businesses, both big and small will have to learn to adapt to a new paradigm.

Positive mindsets benefit everyone

It’s difficult to say how long this emergency will last, but it will pass. And it’s important for us all to try and maintain a positive mindset until this happens.

This doesn’t mean ignoring recommendations and guidelines and acting as if nothing is wrong. This would be both foolish and irresponsible.

Whatever our opinions are, the fact that communities are being forced into unprecedented states of self-awareness is undeniable. We are all being asked to consider the greater good; for the benefit of our communities, encouraging us all to work together. Because, like it or not, we’re all in this together.

Don’t be an ostrich

The hospitality industry, especially in Bali and Lombok’s Gili’s, may be hardest hit as tourist arrivals plummet. But what hotels do in times of crisis also offers opportunity and lessons to learn across many business and investment sectors.

Accepting the reality of the situation is the first and most important thing to get to grips with. Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem disappear. Neither will panic and sharing unverified, fear mongering social media posts.

Historically in times of crisis, the hospitality industry doesn’t sell its assets, at least not generally. Hotels don’t just turn and run. They’re aware not only of their business interests but also of their commitments to communities.

Lessons to learn from hospitality

Operations downsize, for sure, but the most successful hotel operators, both domestic and international, use the downtime to literally re-evaluate systems and procedures, conduct maintenance and training and find ways to offer better services for when things get back to normal. Because they know things will recover. Eventually.

These are the lessons the hospitality industry can teach us all. And this is how Seven Stones Indonesia is trying to help our clients.

We’re encouraging them to use this global slowdown as a time to consolidate investments, to restructure and look at smarter ways to organize their businesses and to explore areas where opportunities are likely to appear.

It’s not a time to panic and not a time to bury ostrich heads in buckets of sand. The new paradigm means it’s time to be realistic so why not work creatively together?

It’s time to be aware of what we are as a society and it’s time be as positive as possible and to help each other.



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