Until now, I had avoided watching the movie, Contagion, despite many people telling me to watch it. With the announcement this week of a plan to ease the lockdown and start on the journey back to some semblance of normality, I thought I’d better give it a shot. For those who don’t know it is a film, directed by Steven Soderbergh in 2011, that follows the path of a deadly virus as it spreads across the globe.

If you are anything like me, you would have been completely clueless about the nature of infectious diseases. You may have some idea how to prevent the transmission of conjunctivitis or other eye-related conditions but that was the limit of my knowledge.

Last March when the pandemic took hold, the film enjoyed a resurgence, despite being made nine years earlier. All of those people could have decided to read some of the scientific papers that the world’s most prominent epidemiologists had written, or watched some of their interviews. Rather than take this approach, many instead watched a fictional film, about a fictional virus, possibly because it stars Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow.

According to the Stuart Heritage of The Guardian, in an article on February 4, 2021, these people were not alone in watching Contagion as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, revealed in a radio interview that the film had influenced his vaccine policy.

In his article, Heritage goes on to discuss various other Hollywood films that may have also influenced our leaders and finally postulates on what films our leaders might watch next to help prevent or manage the next catastrophe.

Fact or Fiction

If you run your own business or lead a team you could be forgiven for wondering where to get your sound leadership advice. There are thousands of books on leadership out there and, while I would advocate reading widely, there are a number of key traits which I always come back to.

Select your sources

If you are making decisions based on peoples’ lives, it is essential to make sure that you are getting correct information. That means understanding your sources. An erroneous post on social media or through a chat room can gather so much traction that it ends up being considered fact. Choose your sources carefully and, if you receive information from a third party, seek verification before sharing or using what may be ‘fake news’.

Use your peers

When you signed up to run your own business or lead a team, nobody told you this crisis was going to happen. It can be lonely at the top and the importance of peer support to help you make the right decisions is even more essential.

Now as we come out the other side, there will be opportunities to grow and redesign your business. We have heard the cliché ‘new normal’ a great deal and we will hear it again. That is because it is true. We don’t have to go back to how we were, we can move forward with a combination of the best of the old and the best of what we learned in lockdown.

You can do this on your own, but take my word for it, it will be far more compelling to share with and learn from others who have been through a similar journey.

Be infectious

Now, as we start moving forward, it is your turn to be infectious. This quote from Jim Rohn ‘you are the
average of the five people you spend most of the time with’, is very apt for optical businesses, as we not only
spend time with a close team but we are incredibly inter-dependent.

How you show up as a leader will have a direct impact on those around you. You already know that even if you are a positive person, when surrounded by negativity you can easily get dragged down and that negativity can stick around for days. On the other hand, spend some time with positive people and you feel energised and uplifted.

If course, you own character will affect the extent to which you are affected by others. The more resilience you have, the more you can repel negativity. For those less resilient they need people round them, positive people like you.

Never underestimate the impact you have on those around you, be the person you want to be and spend as much time as you can with people who are energised, positive and growth minded – you will be amazed at the difference it can make.

Until next month…