You know what to do when the world is normal, but what do you do now, when it’s the most abnormal it has ever been? There have been pandemics and there have been recessions, but never have we intentionally shut off our country’s economic engine, especially when it was running at full throttle. The Wall Street Journal reported (9.20.2020) that, adjusted for inflation, the median household income in the U.S., in 2019, was the highest on record. And the poverty rate was the lowest on record. Will the engine restart?

Whatever happens next, we will not return to normal. There is no static normal. There’s only evolving and devolving. What we inaccurately remember as normal is just a snapshot taken out of context. Joan Didion wrote, “Memory conforms to what we think we remember.” And neurology supports her. FMRI scans indicate that memories are not stored in distinct files in our brains, like they are in our computers. They are broken apart, with bits spread all around, and reassembled, imperfectly.

This is actually good news. If there is no static normal, you don’t have to try to navigate back to it. But you will need to find a way forward. A way to prosperity. Not easy when there are so many unknowns.

If you think of your life and career as a book, all the pages up to this moment are densely packed with words – all of your knowledge, and memories, and experiences. But all the pages after this moment are empty. You can write anything you want, from now forward. But not choosing what to write, is choosing. If you’re still alive, words are continuously going on the page. All of the events and other people around you are glad to write your story, but it’s probably not the story you want written.

If you do choose to be intentional, it will still not be easy. You are way too close to the protagonist to be objective. So being intentional means deliberately zooming out. Self-awareness is hard, partly because we think we know ourselves better than anyone. In fact, we know things about ourselves no other person knows, but we can’t see the forest for the trees. Absent intentional perspective-taking, our own view of ourselves is inaccurate. The great physicist, Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself.”

Accuracy requires information. Gather as much data as you can about yourself. Ask your teammates and friends and family members how you can improve. Take all the personality assessments (none are perfect, but all provide valid data points). Journal. Writing requires you to convert vague thoughts and feelings into concrete words and sentences. Record yourself. When you’re practicing a speech or presentation or sales pitch, record yourself practicing and watch/listen to it. If you don’t like to see or hear yourself on a recording, that’s kind of the point. Improve until you do. Get a mentor or coach who will be straight with you. The best athletes have coaches and the most successful businesspeople have trusted advisors.

I had a friend whose dad used to tell him, “Remember who you are.” By which he meant, remember your values and your vision for who you want to be. Part of you is always changing, but part stays the same. The innate talents, gifts, abilities, proclivities, and shortcomings you were born with remain constant. Your values and vision should remain relatively constant and be a filter through which you process change.

Remember who you are and create who you’ll be. There is no static normal world and there is no static normal you. Every moment of time makes you physically different and every experience makes you cognitively and emotionally different. Your thoughts and actions determine whether for better or worse. Look at all your potential futures, from an objective perspective, and choose what you’ll write on the blank page in front of you, and each next page.

Oh, and remember, each other person’s life and career – your employees’, bosses’, co-workers’, friends’, family members’ lives and careers – are also always changing.


Engaged Banker eXperience delivers these and many other strategies, from behavioral science, to all of your bank’s employees, in bite-sized bits, in every learning style, using spaced repetition and synchronous communication. In other words, in a way every person can easily absorb and immediately apply, to their individual success and to the success of your bank.