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“The Times, They Are ‘A-Changing…”

by David Brock on March 15th, 2020

This post is a departure from my normal diatribes on sales, leadership, business strategy, personal development. It’s a brief commentary and observations on what each of us, and the world faces with COVID-19.

I have no expertise, no deep knowledge; just observations based on what I am reading and hearing on the news. I am not a medical expert and will not be expressing any medical opinions.

We face something few of us as individuals, communities, organizations, and nations have ever faced. Each of us will be touched, in some way. Someone in our family, a neighbor, someone at work will likely be impacted by the virus. We pray for their safe recovery. According to the data, the majority of people should recover. As human beings, we need to be helpful where we can be, even if it’s just offering support and empathy.

Each day will present new challenges, more uncertainty. We have to be observant, thoughtful, willing to change/pivot, and positive.

The world will not stop because of this virus. We cannot push pause, we have to continue working, being engaged, being active, and involved. But, at the same time, we have to realize we may have to change. What we did in the past, may not work, or may put others and ourselves at risk.

Never before has the need to be helpful been greater. Our customers and companies will be struggling with problems, perhaps problems they have always had, but become more acute or visible in these times. The need to change, becomes more urgent for all. We have the opportunity to provide leadership to our customers, our companies, our communities. We have the opportunity to create value in ways we may not have been able to do.

We have the opportunity to help our companies, our customers, our communities to look at new ways of doing things, at changing and moving forward.

Self-centeredness, community, social isolation:

It’s natural to focus on ourselves and our families. To make sure we are safe. Things like physical separation and distancing make sense. Washing and cleanliness make sense.

But sometimes, the focus on ourselves, inadvertently, impacts others adversely. Protecting ourselves does not mean we are protecting others. Focusing on our interests, may put others at risk. We will not solve this by just focusing on what is good for each of us, but by leveraging the community–both where we live, where we work, and our extended communities. Acting in ways that benefit and contribute to the greater community is the best way to protect ourselves and our families.

Mistakenly, there is too much discussion about social isolation. This is the wrong concept. We need physical separation, but we need social engagement and involvement. It is through this engagement, we learn, understand, find solutions. It is through this engagement, we create hope and confidence.

We need social engagement. Sadly our social platforms are not great for engagement–at least the engagement most needed right now. People will feel isolated and alone. They need people to talk to, one on one, to listen, to bridge the physical separation with engagement.

If you are a manager, call your people, talk to them every day, engage them, make them feel connected to everything else that’s going on. Leverage the technology to get groups of people to talk.

If you are a sales person, realize your customers and colleagues are feeling the same isolation. Call them, talk to them, understand what they face, how they feel, how you can help them feel better connected or part of something.

Generosity and giving:

I am struck by the generosity of people in my social media streams. People offering to buy lunch for a child that now can’t go to school. People who are contributing a few dollars here and a few dollars somewhere else. As individuals, it makes us feel good, both giving the donation or receiving it.

But, I believe we serve each other better by concentrating our giving for maximum impact. Some years ago, in my own giving, I realized I was not maximizing the impact. I was spreading what money I could give across a wide number of organizations and people. It made me feel good, but I wasn’t maximizing my impact. Giving is important, but whatever you can give is more effective it if is concentrated where it can have an impact.

Generosity is important, but maximize the impact by concentrating it in a favorite program, charity, or organization. Make your contributions work for the community, not just for individuals.

Generosity of spirit and giving our time is, perhaps, more important. Others need help, whether it is just social engagement, whether it is accomplishing something we can’t do as individuals, or helping solve and address problems.

Leadership:

We should have high expectations of our leaders, whether at the national level or within our companies. While we need them to put in place resources and investments to help understand and manage this crisis, they cannot solve it.

What we face can only be addressed at the community/local/group level, by each of us not acting alone, but in concert with our neighbors, colleagues and customers. Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together and we have the greatest impact by working together to address our share challenges and concerns.

Leaders will emerge, within our work groups (hopefully front line managers), with our customers, and in our communities. Each of us must step in, offering leadership where we can. People working with each other in groups, groups working with other groups, collectively helping each other.

Think about your groups, whether they are in your community, your company, with your customers. Think about how you can contribute to each of them and how they can contribute to others.

Fear:

We will be fearful and we should be. Those around us will be fearful. Fear can paralyze us, it can divide and separate us. This form of fear will not help us–as individuals, communities, organizations, societies, nations.

Often, blame accompanies fear. Too often, our mechanism for dealing with fear is to blame others for what we face. Blame along with fear will not allow us to move forward.

Fear, sometimes, provokes us into action. This is the most useful way for us to harness and resolve our fears. We know we are not alone in what we face. We know others are fearful, as well. But we can only manage and move forward by harnessing the fear we each feel and move forward to find solutions.

Hope, Optimism, Compassion, and Caring:

Hope is not a strategy, but without hope we can develop no strategies. We have much to be hopeful for. Daily we are learning more about the virus itself, and about its broader impact on our communities and nations. We can learn much from what has been done in China, Korea, and others that have had a few weeks more experience than us.

We are learning and adjusting, not just to the virus, but to the extended social and economic impact on us, our communities, our organizations, our customers, and societies. People are mobilizing, working together, cooperating, collaborating, learning from each other and acting together.

For this reason, and not because of the proclamations of our national leaders, we should have hope. Human history is filled with examples of people, groups, and communities coming together to address complex problems.

And through all of this, we need to be compassionate. Many of us will face tremendous personal tragedies. Each of us will probably know someone who is facing a personal tragedy. We need to be helpful, present, in whatever ways are helpful to them. We need to be compassionate with each other. We are in this together, we will, hopefully, come out of this with a greater sense of understanding, openness, compassion, and caring for each other.

We do not know the way forward. There are no magic solutions, nothing that can be helped by wishful thinking. We can only work together, collaborating, engaging, caring.

And we will be better for it.

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One Comment
  1. Dave Olson permalink

    Thank you Dave — well said.
    Olson

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