Photo by Edwin Hooper
I sometimes write because it makes me think clearly and feel better; this is one of those times.
I’m going to be candid, and it’s not easy to admit this. The last 40 days have been an emotional and intellectual ride for me.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I started out rather nonchalant about the situation; I was simply too busy to invest time in listening to experts. As I slowly educated myself on what was happening overseas, I began to appreciate the severity of what was coming. My relative apathy quickly turned to concern for my family, friends, and colleagues: how bad was it going to get, how long would it be, and what would the impact on society/the economy be?
My concern triggered the operational planner in me (yes, I’m an ENTJ). Within days, we identified three scenarios, and came up with high-level contingency plans for each. At the time, I still believed there was a best-case scenario that this would be a 3-4-week impact. It only took a week to realize that scenario was off the table. We were down to the other two scenarios and neither was going to be comfortable. We took steps to transition the company’s operations to be 100% virtual, something that was fortunately very easy for my incredible team to undertake.
With 15 days behind us, I’ve reached a place of acceptance. I can’t say it isn’t nervous acceptance, but it’s a very pragmatic, month-by-month, week-by-week, and even day-by-day approach to both life and business. With much more time to understand and assess the remaining two scenarios, one thing is clear: this will not be over in another week or two…or three.
While I’m still incredibly optimistic this is not systemic, and 1) will be significantly mitigated once real-time testing is widely available, and, 2) eventually beaten once we have a vaccine, I’m equally resigned to the fact that, until we reach these milestones, this will be our new normal. And, if I’m being intellectually honest, I must acknowledge that, at least from a human perspective, things are going to get much worse before they get better. This will get worse, especially in big cities, before our social distancing/shelter-in-place efforts result in a peaking of new infections and deaths. I’m mentally preparing myself for April to get difficult for our communities here in the U.S.; my genuine thoughts and wishes are with all of the communities elsewhere in the world where March and, in some cases, February were already horrific. For us here in the US, I’m afraid April will be that month. Even if we peak in mid or late April, May will still be a trying month.
But I accept all of that. I must. It’s what must happen given the circumstances we find our country and our world in at the moment. I’m not going to complain as it is much worse for so many here and abroad; I’m not going to complain because I still work at a desk; I’m not going to complain because I’m not suffering with the disease; I’m not going to complain because I’m not a heroic first responder nor a healthcare worker facing this fight every single day.
Despite my acceptance of this dire situation; I’m equally optimistic and confident that this will, in fact, end. It will end not in weeks, but it will also end not in years. We will beat this but it will take months. And it is paramount we all do our parts to continue life to the extent we can, to support each other to the extent we can, and to make the most of our new normal for the coming months. Society will emerge stronger, more prepared, and forever changed by this experience.
Let’s do this.