By Scott Armstrong
Amid some of the harshest economic conditions in living memory, it's inspiring to see so many companies across the region still showing up, still innovating and still believing
“Invictus maneo”, my father long claimed, is the Armstrong family motto. Translated from the Latin, it means “I remain unvanquished”.
Over the course of his life, which ended too shortly last year, he lived and breathed this motto. No matter how many times circumstance beat him down, he would always climb back to his feet and attempt to win again.
It wasn’t stoicism, the ability the endure hardship without complaint, as the complaint was often colourfully articulated in great detail. Instead, it was a mixture of utter stubbornness and relentless optimism, with a dash of simply refusing to accept the facts as they were presented to him.
Throughout 2020, I’ve thought about invictus maneo and my father a lot. Many times, those two words he championed have helped navigate the challenges of the year, some coronavirus-related, some not. And I’ve been acutely aware of, and inspired by, thousands of people who every day embody that same motto. I’ve heard countless stories of people whose dreams, jobs, careers and lives have been ripped apart by the pandemic, yet their message remains one of hope.
The tales of the undefeated are written every day across this region. You only need to look at social media to see their stories, whether it’s the young stewardess posing in her outfit for a final time, devastated that Covid-19 has ended her dream but determined to find the next opportunity, or the 30-year project management veteran out of work after decades, not too proud to ask for help and convinced he can rise again.
As the world struggles with a global recession caused by the lockdowns necessary to contain coronavirus, a new landscape is emerging, one filled with perils and pitfalls but one also with filled with potential. Economic stimulus packages totalling billions have been unveiled across the Middle East by governments seeking to help those who step up.
Already entrepreneurs are pivoting to the new reality, carving out opportunities, hitting the reset button on plans, creating alternative paths for themselves and their workforces.
In the UAE alone, there have been hundreds of new start-ups in 2020, all who have been brave enough to begin their journey amid some of the toughest market conditions this generation has seen. Amid the chaos and confusion of Covid-19, these visionaries still dream of success, they continue to seek a way to overcome and create their own futures.
Each day the business community across the region gets up for work and puts on its game face, despite the constant drumbeat of stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic and its economic consequences. There is no Hollywood ending in sight, of course: this isn’t show business, this is show-up business.
The recovery, whenever it comes, maybe V-shaped, U-shaped or, with second, third and fourth waves predicted for the pandemic, even be W-shaped. Whatever letter you pick, that spirit of invictus maneo will be key to creating prosperity. Business models will change, and change again, but you will adapt. Some job roles will evolve, some will become extinct, but you can and will prevail.
It won’t be easy, but it’s okay if you don’t win today, or if you lose again tomorrow. Keep going, be bold, don’t stop dreaming for you are not alone, there are tens of thousands cheering you on.
Over the coming months Arabian Business will stand with you and we will tell your story. Our mission will be to give you the tools you need to survive and succeed.
We will learn together so talk to us, help us to help you remain unvanquished.