In his book “Der verletzte Mensch” [“the hurt human being”], the author and keynote speaker Andreas Salcher explored the question of what distinguishes winners from losers. Together with Günther Tengel, Managing Partner of Amrop Jenewein, the author has now approached this topic in the context of the Corona crisis.
How crises divide society into winners and losers
While an emergency health crisis, as caused by the new Coronavirus in several other countries, has been averted successfully in Austria, the economic and social consequences of the virus will be felt for some time. As a result, the gap between winners and losers will widen. For his book “Der verletzte Mensch”[“the hurt human being”], the Austrian author and keynote speaker Andreas Salcher examined, among other things, which aspects distinguish winners from losers. With regard to the Corona crisis, Salcher draws attention to the fact that winners always interpret crises differently than losers, and in this context points to a formula that is as simple as it is clear: self-responsibility instead of assigning blame. “Winners are people who are just as affected by crises. However, they take responsibility for it, while losers seek to blame others and feel like victims. Hence, winners suffer from crises and defeats just as much as losers but interpret them differently, namely, as part of their life story,” Salcher summarizes.
What the meaning of life has to do with it
Although, especially at the beginning of the crisis, many people spent more time than usual asking themselves the question of the meaning of life, it remains questionable whether this has actually led to a rethinking and a change in dominant perspectives. Whenever the question of meaning arises, Andreas Salcher usually refers to the work of Viktor Frankl, who developed his doctrine regarding the meaning of life at the darkest places in history, the concentration camps of the Nazi regime. “It is important, even in bad situations, to recognize a remnant of individual possibilities for action for oneself and not to let this be taken away. If I succeed in making use of this room for manoeuvre, however small it may be, then I always retain one last freedom in my life. We have more of this freedom than we often admit to ourselves”, explains the author. In this context, Andreas Salcher would also like to point out a trap that he, too, has fallen into now and then: “If you look for the meaning of life within yourself, you will never find it. The meaning of life can only be found in action.” According to Viktor Frankl, there are three different ways of doing this, which are decisive: action, love and suffering. “Because only people who also succeed in assigning a purpose to suffering will not feel like victims,” Salcher says.
Students, teachers, parents - who were the winners and losers?
In recent weeks, it has become clear that the gap between different educational classes has widened even further. “Looking at the group of pupils, it quickly becomes clear that those who have parents who were able to support them in their learning experienced hardly any disadvantages during this time. In contrast, students from households in which the value of education is not recognized or whose parents cannot help their children at all have fallen even further behind,” says Salcher. The conditions in the respective households have also played a decisive role in this respect. Single parents who also had to work from home were obviously exposed to enormous stress. However, there were different groups among the teachers as well: “There were some who were very committed to the new digital possibilities, but there were also those who sent out a huge amount of assignments in the beginning but then failed to follow-up on them. Concerning society as a whole, Andreas Salcher does not believe that the Corona crisis has changed entire value systems. “When we look back on this period in ten years’ time, we will do so in a similar way to how we perceived 9/11 or the financial crisis.” Nevertheless, he would like to point out that our society has become more fragile and that there will always be “black swans” like this, disrupting plans, big and small. “Therefor, resilience is one of the most important skills for the future. This will not only be about resilience but also about adaptability.“
The most in-demand skills for managers in the future
As a society, we go through several phases in which we constantly reevaluate what people actually need in order to produce something together or to offer a service. “For many, many years, the main issue was know-how and how to recognize this know-how. That has changed and we have started to think more and more about how to recognize potential. This is, of course, much more difficult,” says Günter Tengel. Since, in order to know what you are looking for, you would also have to know what might actually be in-demand in 15 or 20 years. He adds: “A simple answer would be to look for those people who have the right attitude to shape an unforeseeable future because the future can be shaped, but cannot managed.“
Reorientation every 15 years?
The Israeli historian Yuval Harari writes in his book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century“ that in the future, people will have to reinvent themselves every 15 years. Günter Tengel critically doubts this, since he believes that this time span is still too generous. “Innovations will progress much faster than we can imagine. And even the famous black swans will arrive faster and more unpredictably than we think.” Consequently, learning or the willingness to learn will be key. “Openness, curiosity, creativity, and trust will therefor play an even greater role in the future,” says Tengel, and adds in conclusion: “The decisive factor is trust in your own strengths.”