How Are You?
How is the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic making you feel? Between the media, the uncertainty, and the overwhelming voices, many people are struggling with anxiety, fear, even pessimism about the future.
Those are all rational responses to this unprecedented crisis.
This is the biggest crisis in a generation. Certainly the most threatening global event in my lifetime. We haven’t seen a crisis affecting so many countries (165 as of this morning) since the WWI and WWII, or the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918.
Financially, the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a greater effect than the 2008 GFC. For the first time companies all over the world are sending people to work from home, and entire industries are shutting down.
For a world where we revelled in our resources, our financial security, and our superior technology, many of us are rocked to our core as our very foundations are ripped from under our feet.
From uncertainty about whether we even need quarantine (we do), to anxiety about how long lockdowns will remain in place, fear about how we will make ends meet, and pessimism about the eventual fall out. It is easy to see why people could be struggling.
A Sailing Metaphor
When faced with ambiguous, uncertain, seeming overwhelming threat, I tend to fall back on my sailing experience. I trained as a coastal skipper, and raced and delivered yachts around South Africa, the USA, Caribbean and across the Atlantic during the 90’s. More importantly though, I actually sailed through a couple of life threatening storms in that time.
This may be a bit out there, but bear with me.
When at sea, with an unavoidable storm forecast, you prepare for the storm. No-one just cruises into the bad weather in the same configuration as they do on a sunny cruise leg.
Batten Down the Hatches
First you “batten down hatches.” On a boat that means put away any non-essential equipment, clothes, cutlery, books, cameras, anything that can become a missile when your home resembles the inside of a washing machine. Close and secure hatches, latches, drawers, closets, doors, valves.
Next you put on your foul weather gear. This also entails your safety harness, automatic inflatable flotation device. Pretty much what you need to remain dry and toasty, not to mention safely on board, when the world around you is wet and wild.
Then you check that all the sails and rigging you might need, storm sails, reef ties, and spare lines are ready and easily accessible. When you’re holding on for dear life, in the pitch black, you don’t want to have to hunt for critical equipment.
Eat – Take Care of Essentials
Usually you can get all of the above ready in fairly short order. So while you are waiting for the inevitable, you make sure everyone gets a warm meal (this could be your last for days),, and takes the time to complete essential tasks, completing the log, confirming navigation, checking winches, blocks, staunchians, fuel and food levels.
From a team perspective it is good to shorten watches so everyone get’s chance to rest after increased activity, and is prepared for when you need all hands on deck.
Also run through potential emergency procedures – what to do if there’s an injury, person overboard, leak, sail overboard, etc.
“Panic never served anyone well…”
Calmly Prepare for the Pandemic
Have a look at the forecast. For the COVID-19 pandemic we can look at countries that are ahead of us with reported cases. Australia has 565 cases as of 18 March 2020. Each of the following countries was where we are today:
- Italy (31K cases) just 19 days ago.
- The USA (6,5k cases) just 10 days ago
- The UK (2k cases) just 6 days ago.
So we know that Australia is likely to head into the same storm, which means we know that Australia will increase the quarantine drastically as cases spiral out of control.
So prepare for that. Put together a plan for when we are all quarantined (look at Italy, France, Spain, the UK). Prepare your home workspace, cancel holiday travel, and conferences. Figure out how you will communicate with work, family and friends. Heck, put together a Netflix Binge List.
Reasons for Hope
On the plus side:
- We all have more supplies and resources than any of our predecessors in history
- We have more information, and medical expertise that any of our predecessors in history. In 1918 they didn’t know what a virus was.
- We all have friends and family looking out for us
- Many of us have jobs where we can work remotely
- You can directly impact the spread of the virus, because you know how.
- Our kids can still learn remotely
Reasons for Leadership
You or I have no control over the markets, which will fluctuate with volatility. We have no control over house prices, or RBA interest rates. But we do have control over our relationships.
Who are the friends and family you have checked in with in the last month? Who are those that you will check in with everyday, once or twice per week, perhaps once a month.
Think about preparing food, doing a shopping run for a neighbour, planning a (remote) games night, and generally focusing on how you can use your resources and capabilities to help others.
Hoarding (anything) toilet paper doesn’t show leadership. Sharing a meal does. Teaching your kids to be resourceful as we run out of resources for the first time in their lives. Reaching out to your neighbours. Being positive for you team, your family, your kids
All the Best
I mean it, all the very best. If you would like to chat to someone please reach out and let me know how I can help…