The virus is still here, it is still a pandemic, we remain without leadership at a federal level, and none of this looks to be changing anytime soon. Our Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, and the news supply daily doses of pandemic effects: facts, opinions, fear, anxiety, worry, the inability to forecast business revenues or a family budget – with no tangible end in sight.
So, what can change?
Us. We can change. We can stop living in the limbo land of COVID World, with everything that comes with it – including hope that it will soon be over – and just start thinking World. Waiting, hoping, and tweeting about future solutions when COVID World is over is ineffective. Here we are. This is what we have. This is our World with no clear end in sight.
As a business leader, I know the strategy can’t be “when COVID World is over, we’ll do x, y, and z.” Here we are. This is what we have. The business strategy needs to be rooted in what we can and must do now, in this World, and going forward. As a parent, I know this is also true at home. How long can I let my young teenage/tweenage wolves run wild, without reading or learning, with Xbox fusing into their synapses?
Bill Gates, one of the very few talking heads worth listening to on pandemic issues, was crystal clear in his piece from April, “The first modern pandemic.” He is apolitical and drama-free. It has been clear since February/March 2020 that America was in for an 18- to 24-month journey, at the shortest. Point being, our businesses and our families aren’t built to pause and hold their breath for 24 months – not when the conditions have changed so much that deep, fundamental shifts in business models and family routines are required. This isn’t a phase to be waited out; hunkering down and using hope as a strategy will land your business in bankruptcy and your family torn and tried in visible and invisible ways.
Us. We can change. Here we are. This is what we have. Let’s stop thinking it is a phase we can wait out like when we held our breath driving by a cemetery so the spirits wouldn’t get in us.
The first step in a plan is to accept the reality, to see the facts on the ground and acknowledge a plan is needed. Here we are. This is what we have. Time to abandon the pause of COVID World and immerse into the plan and implementation of World. Everything is on the table, nothing can be assumed or protected, defensiveness about how we’ve always done it will not serve anyone now. New day, blue ocean, call it what it is to you, just call it something that triggers your action. Fundamental changes. Business models, sales channels, structural costs, a path to cash flow positive, bold risk-taking calculated and implemented as quickly as your situation requires. I realize there are many industries not hit as hard as mine – but that doesn’t mean the disruption isn’t happening in your industry. Don’t wait to feel the earthquake to pack your go bag.
At home, with our families, this World needs revised and new routines. As we’re teaching our kids about race, we should also be teaching them about money, and what it takes to keep a household under a roof and off the street. We need to figure out learning pods and distance learning. We need to replace some of the structure previously provided by school with new structures. And we need to think of ways to not just survive, but dream of how we can thrive, and implement these visions now.
I can either keep complaining about failing at parenting and wishing for an end to COVID World, or I can remember this is World. Here we are. This is what we have. I can step up and create with my family the structures, schedules, and commitments that are needed to keep us sane, growing, and learning how to succeed in this World.
Accepting and planning for World will protect all of us from the roller-coaster of “hope” – today we’ll read about a vaccine, and think we’re almost there, I can keep holding my breath. Tomorrow we’ll read that vaccines require multiple doses, and then soon we’ll read about vaccines failing in Phase 3 trials. This is all predictable. So, let’s stop holding our breath and hoping; let’s do what we need to do in World. And when a solution does come, we won’t have run out of air.
I do believe there is a post-pandemic reality with an effective vaccine and excellent therapeutics and a daily life that looks much like it did in 2019, or better. I am hoping for our own version of the Roaring Twenties. But I can’t know when that will begin with any certainty, and I want my business and my family to be intact when that day comes. So, I’m changing anything and everything I can to make it in today’s World. I am embracing the now with all that it is and all that it isn’t and making plans for this World, as it currently is. Here we are. This is what we have.