Amidst the challenges, the pandemic has brought us occasions for growth.
Just because it’s hard to find a silver lining when you’re stuck under a particularly dark cloud doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The global pandemic that began with a few isolated cases about a year ago has become a series of tidal waves of disease, with profound effects on our world. Just when the numbers of cases and deaths seem to be trending downwards and the restrictions begin to be relaxed, cases surge again, and various local governments bring back stricter health measures. Restaurants, gyms, and many other businesses are being severely impacted, and many have had to close. We’ve practically all been affected by death and sickness of friends and relatives, not to mention the professional and economic impact on our own families.
At the same time that the pandemic has brought suffering, loss, and restrictions, it has also created opportunities for us to grow, sometimes in ways we’ve needed for a long time but couldn’t see because of the distractions of ordinary life.
From a business perspective, this pandemic has created many empty niche markets. Professor Philip Kotler defines them as “small markets whose needs are not being well served.”
COVID-19 has generated new needs, and has made some existing needs much more widespread. Have we ever seen such a demand for masks, hand sanitizer, acrylic face shields, and online training platforms and entertainment, among others? Imagination and creativity are being used to serve the needs of these small markets that have arisen since the pandemic.
How about us? Have we considered our own “niche markets”? No, I’m not talking about whether or not we’re teaching classes online, or if we sell acrylic face shields. I’m talking about whether we’ve taken advantage of the pandemic to find that empty niche in our human relations, that small “market” in our own lives whose needs are not being well attended.
These unmet needs could include, for example:
- Renewing our relationship with a brother or sister, which has gradually become reduced to seeing each other at Christmas.
- Repairing our relationship with a difficult teenage son or daughter who hides behind electronic screens.
- Casual, inconsequential and necessary conversations with our spouse, which can renew the feeling of courtship in our marriage.
- Enjoying and valuing the minutes we spend in the line at the supermarket, getting to know our sales clerk and asking her about her cat.
- Taking advantage of the opportunity to get closer to elderly neighbors—getting past the small talk, not only talking about the weather, and offering to run an errand for them.
The pandemic will be the unifying force that brings together the will of this generation, so why not turn fear, uncertainty and anxiety inside-out and use them to our advantage? Let’s summon the kindness we need to push aside our coldness and irritability, replacing our safe distance (emotionally, not physically) with the closeness of cordiality and sincere concern.
Maybe in the empty niche that this coronavirus has brought with it, that somewhat unfulfilled market, we will find ourselves unexpectedly alongside very special people. We might find people who will repay us generously for the time we’ve have invested into our relationships with them, who will listen to us, attend to us, and manage to calm our fears, anxieties and uncertainties. We might accompany people who will make us want to be where we are and with whom we are, despite the pandemic. If we had this perspective, we wouldn’t let this opportunity pass us by and we’d exploit its full potential. Nor would we neglect our relationship with God.
Have we stopped to search for our possibly empty niche markets? Have we been neglecting the niche market of our relationship with God? How can we turn this pandemic into an opportunity for spiritual and social gain?
One great opportunity for meeting emotional needs is to find little ways to make life at home more fun, such as these 12 enjoyable things to do with your young adult children who are home during the pandemic.