World-renowned aviation lawyer, airline executive and author Ron Bartsch shares his principles of “20-20 Thinking” to arm individuals with the tools to think clearly and creatively about their future.

Ron Bartsch developed the concept of “20-20 Thinking” as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his book, The Corona Dilemma: 20-20 Thinking for the Next Normal, he outlines strategies for identifying moments in your life that, when properly harnessed and purposefully acted upon, can set you on an entirely different course. The result, more often than not, is an enhanced sense of personal wellbeing and professional success aligned to your individual values. Ron shares a few of his tips below.

Q. In your book The Corona Dilemma you talk about “corona events.” What is a corona event and why are they so significant?

A “corona event” is a term I came up with to describe the special situation that arises following an event that derails your train of normality and forces you to divert from your normal way of doing things. These can be traumatic events, such as during the coronavirus pandemic, but not always.

My own corona event was an unplanned assignment on the Pacific island of Vanuatu that completely changed the way I viewed my life and the world I had created around me. Until then I had been passing my time working in public service, and in the belief I was securing a carefree and satisfying future. But within weeks of arriving I began to reassess what in life was really important to me – my family and my relationship. I realised that I’d been nurturing certain values that were, in fact, of little or no value. So I decided, there and then, to make a change for the better.

We’re all likely to face at least one corona event at some point in our lives. You may have hsd already; the pandemic may be yours right now; or perhaps in the years to come you’ll face one. Whatever the case, a corona event is a significant moment in your life that forces you to re-evaluate how you’ve been doing things. The important thing – and what The Corona Dilemma is all about – is to recognise the moment as it happens, and realise the opportunities that change presents.

Q. In the book you differentiate between interpersonal and intrapersonal change. Can you explain why this distinction is important in attempting to resolve your corona dilemma?

At face value it seems that we humans are quite good at accommodating change. If we compare contemporary society to the society that existed a few short decades ago, in terms of the pace of activity and the uptake of technology, you’ll get some idea of the extent to which society embraces change. E-transactions and our cashless society, communicating using smart devices, the proliferation of social media, new mediums for delivering food and transporting people have all become part of our normal and everyday life.

To better understand the unique situation we face after having experienced a corona event, we should consider change as being of two basic types: interpersonal change and intrapersonal change. Interpersonal change is generally referred to as environmental change, as it affects more than one person and includes societal and organisational change. This kind of change is reactive and is what we have experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t require a change to the way we think, but rather it reinforces the notion of our acceptance of common practices within a community or an organisation.

In contrast, intrapersonal or individual change is proactive, self-initiated, and does not happen unless you, as an individual or as a corporation, are prepared to do something different. When faced with a corona dilemma you need to start thinking differently so you can devise strategies to protect your newly re-prioritised core values.

Q. So, how do we learn to start thinking differently?

The corona event and subsequent corona dilemma provide the opportunity for you to do things differently and so live a better life. 20-20 Thinking is a collection of models and tools I have developed that can be applied to approach thinking creatively about the situation you’re in. 20-20 Thinking is part of the decision-making process that helps you connect remotely associated ideas to form new and creative ideas. It considers function rather than form in resolving problems.

Q. Who in particular would benefit from reading this book?

Ask yourself the following question: Is there any aspect of your personal wellbeing or professional career that you feel could be improved, but you don’t know what to do about it? If the answer is “Yes” then this book is for you.

Book cover of The Corona Dilemma

The Corona Dilemma: 20-20 Thinking for the Next Normal is available online. RRP $29.95