“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine!”
~ Edmond Dantes, The count of Monte Cristo
This Too Shall Pass!
We’re living in scary times and there are plenty of people telling us that the final apocalypse is just around the corner. They may be right, but history tells us that this is probably not the final curtain on civilisation as we know it… although there will probably be a radical shift and some major resets.
The last few weeks have been tense, as countries have shut their borders and gone into various degrees of lockdown. I’m not minimising the probable consequences of COVID-19 on global health resources and affected individuals as well as economies, and I have no idea how long all this will last, but I do know that people are highly resilient and adaptable. After the first shock is over, the world will start moving again… at least tentatively…
What’s My Evidence for Cautious Optimism?
In the last 110 years, we’ve seen:
- Two world wars, hundreds of regional conflicts causing massive dislocation;
- Six+ global epidemics threatening global health and creating panic. There are several ways of counting but I’m including Spanish flu, AIDS, Ebola, SARS, MERS, and now COVID-19 as key examples, not to mention the impact of diseases like polio, measles, malaria, dengue fever etc;
- Three extensive depression/recession/stock market events. The Great Depression, the 1987 Crash and the 2008-09 GFC.
… And these are just the calamitous, western-focused events.
If we narrow our focus to disease and plague, we can see indigenous populations in North America, the South Pacific, and Australia decimated by ‘western’ diseases that were almost as deadly as conflict and policy.
Go further back and we see the impact of various plagues on the populations of Great Britain and Europe and read about the experience of eyewitnesses and social commentators. We see massive disruption, fear, loss, panic, and social change (sometimes radical, sometimes relatively minor). What we haven’t seen is the end of civilisation… yet.
Therefore, the most appropriate response to this present crisis is to take a deep breath, follow protocols for your location and industry, and ask yourself how you can use this gift of time to prepare for whatever comes next.
What Course of Action Will You Choose?
Looking at history, it seems there are three main courses of action you could choose:
- Hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, then look around cautiously for someone to help you take your next step;
- Look to government to sort things out and keep things ticking over and eventually rebuild;
- Do what it takes to stay afloat through the storm and prepare to take control of your future success.
There are two main historic events that disturb me as I look at the way forward and that I think have particular lessons for us today:
The Famine in Egypt: You’ve probably heard the story about Joseph and Pharoah’s dream, but I want to zero in on the end-result… After seven years of famine the Egyptian people had surrendered to Pharaoh (the government) their livestock, their homes and land, and their freedom. Only the priests (administrators), the royal household, and the Hebrew people were still free to some extent. That’s the danger of asking our government to bail us out… The enslavement of our own and our children’s future.
Is that a price you want to pay?
Italy, Germany, and The Great Depression: The end of WWI, the Spanish flu, the humiliation of Germany, and the subsequent depression were the breeding ground for WWII. When life got tough Hitler and Mussolini, in particular, looked for a shared vision to lift their people’s spirit and mobilised them to action. They harked back to their former national glories to create a vision and found a common enemy to demonise and distract people from their present hardships.
Is that a course of action you want to pursue?
It seems to me that the scenarios I outlined briefly above (The Famine in Egypt and Italy & Germany) are common results of course #1. Waiting for help; and #2. Relying on government to do everything. Only #3. Taking personal responsibility, offers much hope of future freedom and prosperity.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Prepare Your Next Move
#1. Control Your Stress, Take Care of Your Health
Stress and anxiety breed despair and disease, so anything you can do to lower your stress levels, promote positivity, and reduce anxiety will help.
A few proven anxiety-reducing strategies include: fresh air and sunshine, gardening, hobbies, laughter, hugs, social interaction, meditation, sleep, and exercise.
Avoid: incessant news-watching, negative social media posts, binge eating.
#2. Manage Your Time, Finances, and Mindset
Working from home (or not-working from home) presents its own pitfalls. Time that is lost cannot be retrieved so set yourself up with a routine that supports your mental and physical health as well as your productivity. Unless you are actually sick, keeping regular hours to work, exercise, relax, socialise (even if it’s virtual) and sleep is extremely important.
The government has taken steps to try to keep the economy moving during this unprecedented shut-down to try to avoid a massive recession. By all means, take advantage of their offers to help you stay afloat and relieve stress and consider it a temporary loan, but do your best to maintain your independence as far as possible (see the Lessons from Egypt above). However, unless you have plenty of liquid assets (like 6 months’ worth of living expenses) you may want to consider reducing unnecessary expenditures and luxury purchases. At the same time, remember that sometimes your expenditure is an investment in someone else’s livelihood and cutting back has a run-on effect.
There really aren’t any demons in this scenario so don’t manufacture them. Focus on finding solutions to real problems not blaming others (this includes government, people with opinions that conflict with your own, other nations, hoarders, etc). We really don’t want another World War so let’s focus on things we can improve.
#3. Building for the Future and Preparing Your Next Move
Unless you’re in health care or an ‘essential industry’ you may have some extra time and energy (even if it’s the time you usually spend commuting). Instead of chasing clients (who are also probably hunkering down right now), look ahead think of what you can do to future-proof your business. This includes building online resources, writing your authority book, thinking about new ways of meeting clients needs, learning new skills, etc.
When this passes and the world returns to its new normal what would you like your business to look like?
What assets, skills, and resources do you need to make this happen?
Set aside time to think about this and then to take decisive action. You may find that this is the perfect opportunity to restructure your business so that you can build something that works even better. More importantly, the time, energy, and thought you devote to these things will not only be productive in and of itself, but will also keep your thoughts heading towards a positive vision for the future.
Would You Be Interested?
I am currently fully booked with ghostwriting projects, but I’ve had many people ask me if I can help them write their own books, especially at the present moment when they are conserving cash but have extra time on their hands.
I already offer the following services:
- Manuscript Review (structural and content suggestions for your existing manuscript)
- Copyediting and Proofreading (final stages to pick up typos etc. prior to typesetting & layout)
- Structural Design & Targeting (helping authors create a framework that bridges the gap between their ideas and expertise and their market gap)
I am considering a self-paced online course to help business authors write their own book and cover both the mechanical and psychological challenges of authorship.
If you are interested, please respond below:
Yes / No.