Lucy Dunleavy, Managing Director, LearnBox

Everywhere you go (not literally!) it’s ‘new normal’ this and ‘new normal’ that and constant speculation about what the ‘new normal’ may or may not look like. Well quite frankly I’m sick of it!

The ‘new normal’ juxtaposition does not sit comfortably with me; in fact, I despise it.

Let me explain.

New: produced, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time, not existing before.

Normal: conforming to a standard , usual, typical or expected.

If we’ve learnt anything from this pandemic isn’t it that the ‘old normal’ didn’t work, that we’ve had to adapt and move quickly and actually we need to continue adapting, moving and learning.

Normal breeds acceptance and monotony. Normal gives us uninspiring benchmarks. Normal conforms; it doesn’t demand innovation and creativity.

Normal kills ambition; it kills striving for out of this world expectations.

Normal accepts; it doesn’t question or demand, it isn’t curious for a better option.

Normal doesn’t wonder, what if? Could we do better? Normal doesn’t imagine; it doesn’t long for something better.

Normal isn’t unique.

Normal is repetitive. Normal is mundane. Normal is boring.

Normal is comfort zone.

Greatness begins beyond your comfort zone.

Robin Sharma

Surely the last thing we want is a new version of our previous old (broken) normal?

Afterall, we are talking about the world we are living in, not an IT software update; that starts with a big build up but that arrives disappointingly with a couple of better features but it’s still just not quite right…

 We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2016 LearnBox was founded with a rebellious spirt and with one objective… to revolutionise training. We recognised the world was changing, businesses were changing, people were changing so we thought learning should naturally change too. We wanted to move away from normal and traditional and offer people a new way to learn; whilst supporting tutors and coaches in having a better work-life balance and to offer businesses learning that fits their core business needs. And of course provide the learner with the very best (and different) learning experience.

The world has changed and we think learning needs to be modernised too.

LearnBox

We said this pre-pandemic but it’s even more relevant now!

We know education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world and we also know technology has the power of connection and accessibility. Our vision is to combine the two and create the most engaging content so we can support changing the world positively and effectively in the quickest way. We must keep learning, adapting and evolving.

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

This pandemic has affected the whole world and in response the world has been forced to change and adapt but what’s worrying is the amount of people wanting everything back to the way it was, back to normal.

Normal is dangerous. Normal is high suicide rates, normal is social pressure, normal is stress. ‘The Norm’ was always a limitation on how people perceive each other; a notion that shouldn’t exist.

How many of us lose years on trying to fit in, to feel ‘normal’? Bending to fit social acceptance and our own stereotype for how we should be, whilst losing ourselves in the process.

Who decides what normal really is anyway and why do we strive to fit into the mould?

Normal is a world where the following words exist: Racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse, neglect amongst many, many, far too many more. Normal is ugly. I don’t want this normal, for me, for my daughter, for anyone.

Normal needs to expire.

Who wants to be normal when you can be unique?

Helena Bonham Carter

Normal is management when the world needs leadership.

Normal is selfish when the world needs selfless.

Normal is classroom learning when the world needs blended learning.

Normal is striving to fit in when the world needs unique.

Normal is pollution when the world needs to heal.

At LearnBox we feel the best ideas are born outside of the classroom (Isaac Newton is a clear example of this) but it’s taken for a pandemic for me to realise the best ideas can also happen outside the boardroom and outside the office, you act and feel differently in different environments. Countryside walks, paddling pools, beaches etc all have the opportunity to inspire creativity.

Some of you might be for technology, some of you might be against it. But there is no arguing that this situation has shed light on the extent and power digital tools provide.

At the start of lockdown, I thought online meetings would be less effective than face to face (I know, me, the woman banging the drum for online thought traditional might be better – the irony!) but how I quickly learnt online meetings could be just as effective. I presumed they would feel cold and less personal but actually they’ve turned out to be much more intimate; I wouldn’t normally get to meet people’s pets, children and see the inside of their homes. I actually feel like I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people on a completely different level (I’ve even seen people’s washing!).

Without deviation from the norm, ‘progress’ is not possible.

Frank Zappa

At the start there was the profuse apology for the rogue child or rogue dog sticking his/her head into the screen but we’ve relaxed much more since then, humility has set in. We recognise the balance of being at home, home-schooling and sharing an environment for most of the day is challenging for the best of us so we’ve adapted and we keep learning. To be clear, I’m not saying we should never go back to the office or all meetings should be done online, I’m saying they can be just as effective but choice and a blended approach is great. The saving in travel time, the saving of travel emissions, the more time with family, is all positive progression.

Some of the best business leaders I’ve spoken to during lockdown have already implemented strategies and targets to encourage more home working, to massively reduce travel and to supply employees with the relevant equipment to work at home effectively.

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.

Simon Sinek

So, instead of wishing we could return to the way things used to be, we can use this as a positive opportunity to learn and grow and better ourselves and our perspectives.

What we need is effective and progressive leadership embedding a culture of continuous learning. Our needs haven’t changed but the ways in which people want to satisfy those needs have; people want the reason for being, the purpose, the reason why. People want to feel part of something with value.

Modern leaders can empower by sense of community and a sense of autonomy; allowing team members to work on things that are important to them. Environments where people can fail without being made to feel a failure are key and all part of the continuous learning culture.

I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.

Jacinda Ardern

Agile, open-minded businesses will survive. Leaders making the brave and bold decisions that are focused on reimaging and reinventing the future with the team around them being part of the whole process; asking questions like what are we part of, what do we stand for and what do we want to create?

We need human leadership, not business leadership.

The focus should be on culture and people.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker

Covid-19 has forced us to stop and adapt; it’s challenged assumptions and we’ve found pleasure in simple things, learning new things and making progress. The pace-of-change accelerated by the current situation has forced self-awareness and we’ve looked at things differently.

So, let’s continue to challenge the norm, to think critically. Let’s challenge assumptions and think differently.

After all learning is our only competitive advantage!

Our perspective and mindset are everything. Let’s continue to learn.

There is much more to life than the ‘normal’ we were settling for.

If you want special results, you have to feel special things and do special things together. You can speak about spirit, or you can live it.

Jurgen Klopp

Normal is accepting, normal is pretending things aren’t happening.

Learning is progress, learning is creating.

Let’s not make do and tweak what has already been. Let’s accept it’s broken, rip up the rule book and start again. We have an opportunity to rewrite conventions for the generations that follow.

The future demands us to be different.

This is an opportunity. Let’s take it.

Let’s not create a new normal, let’s learn and evolve to create a new world!

Or if we are so set on having a new normal, let’s make ‘always learning’ the new normal; that way we will be in a constant state of progression.

Progress equals happiness

Tony Robbins.

Lucy Dunleavy, Managing Director, LearnBox

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