Moving beyond the ‘re’​

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Moving beyond the ‘re’​

Open any newspaper or article at the moment and you will notice a myriad of words with the prefix “re”. The idea that most parts of the world are either considering their re-entry strategy or are actively in the process of re-emerging. This is true for governments who are reopening their economies, for individuals who are resurfacing from the comfort of their home, for children returning to school, or for businesses who are re-emerging in this new environment. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the prefix “re” is “used to add the meaning ‘do again’ or returning something to its original state”. It is about a backward motion.

As we embark on this phase of the “re”: the re-imagining, re-inventing, re-emerging, we seem to be hoping and wishing that things would simply return to how they have always been. To our comfort zone. To what we know. All of these statements implying that if we try hard enough, dig deep enough, that we will go back to what once was. 

Whilst it feels as though, in many parts of the world, that we have turned a corner, we are still in the process of learning how to live with Covid19. Even if we believe (or hope) that the changes to our lives will be minimal, it’s starting to look less likely that our life as we know it will return to exactly what it once was. 

But in our rush to embrace the “re”, are we taking time to consider what we are rushing back to? Is what we had really what we still want?

This gives us each the opportunity to lean into the ‘next normal’ phase, however uncertain that may be. To shift from the perspective of re-entry, returning, reopening and seek out a mindset that embraces new beginnings and imagination. Instead of re-awakening, awakening and instead of re-emerging, emerging. It is about considering the possibilities beyond the known, the status quo, the existing. 

“Imagination is the beginning of creation”

George Bernard Shaw

Top tips for moving beyond this “re” phase:

  1. Our language subtly informs our perspectives so let us choose our words carefully. Focus on words that are future-focused, imaginative, that embrace and envisage endless opportunities. Ask yourself, how can I be more aware of my language and how that may be informing my mindset?

  2. Prepare for the change (fail to plan, plan to fail) – consider what you need to do to feel you (or your team and business) is ready to take on this next chapter. Like all change leadership this starts by creating your vision of change, rallying people around this, then sustaining and embedding it. Ask yourself some poignant questions: What is possible for you, your team or your business when you allow yourself to imagine freely?

  3. Embrace the ‘new normal’ – as much as there’s a strong urge to fight for what we know, or comfort zone of how things once were; the sooner we can embrace what is in the here and now, the better. To do this you may need to go through a grieving process of sorts as you mourn for what once was. When you reach the acceptance stage you will be able to centre yourself around this next normal will mean for you, your team, your community and/or your business. Ask yourself what changes will be permanent and what possibilities have been unlocked. What do you think is old that will return, what has changed that will stay and what could yet be?

Instead of harking back to the days that were, let us all imagine the future that we want for ourselves, for our teams, for our businesses and for our communities. In this incredibly creative and innovative time, where there are no expectations or requirements to ‘paint between the lines’, dare to dream. Let us consider how we would like to emerge from this experience. Instead of dreaming for what was, let us build towards what might be.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”


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