Since 1897, the Swiss Army knife, designed by Carl Elsner and manufactured by Victorinox, has been a trusted tool of adventurers around the world. The traditional version is red with a white cross and a shield imprinted on it. The cross represents strength and positivity, the shield represents protection. When you embark on an unknown adventure, it is always a good idea to have one of these knives with you. With more than thirty different features, tools, gadgets, and levers, it can tighten, loosen, and fix just about anything. So whatever the predicament, with a bit of innovation and creativity, one can solve almost any problem.
A few months ago, we embarked on an unknown journey. Almost overnight, we were forced to leave behind so many things we took for granted to go into lockdown and isolation. Little did we know then, that for many it would be the last time they would close their office door and say goodbye to colleagues. For others, it would be the last time they would serve a customer their favourite drink or meal. For many, it would be the last time they would receive their full monthly salary.
For all of us, something ended. The world we used to know ended abruptly and dramatically, and we had no time to plan. We are still finding our way as the journey unfolds, and it is scary. Many of us feel uncertain, unsafe, and vulnerable. Let’s imagine ourselves as a Swiss Army knife. Like most pocket knives, these knives also have two blades that are ideal for cutting and slicing, but unlike most pocket knives, they offer so much more. So much so, that calling it a knife is a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a multi-purpose versatility tool. How versatile and useful it is, only becomes clear when we are faced with some kind of obstacle or problem on the journey that requires a different tool to fix the problem.
This is exactly what is required of us now: to use a different tool. Like these knives, we are versatile; we have what it takes to face the challenges. In the past few months, millions of people lost their jobs or their incomes. Their blades are no longer required. The worst thing we can do to ourselves when we find ourselves in such a situation right now is to think of ourselves as redundant and useless. The fact that no blade is required does not render the knife useless. It simply is an opportunity to have a closer look and discover some other tools and skills with which to carve out a new path.
In short, what is required now is to shift our focus from the blade to our brilliance. It is of no use, if the only thing everyone brings along on the journey is a blade. There are enough of those. New obstacles call for new thinking, new tools, and new solutions. Whatever your challenge may be, open that knife and discover the untapped tools and instruments available to you. Cometh the challenge, cometh the tool. No need to panic. It is all in there. We just need to shift our focus. Is it that simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Why? Because fear may paralyze us. So let’s look at the logo on a Swiss Army knife again: the shield and the cross. According to the manufacturer, the cross represents strength and positivity, while the shield represents protection. The journey we embarked on is not a walk in the park. It is an expedition into the unknown. However, it is our strength and our positivity that will carry us through this, and once it is over, we will look back and realize we were protected by a shield of guidance all along. So let us just keep walking. A new exciting world awaits us.
“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” – Soledad O’Brien