It’s pretty distracting to see new infections break records every day.
It’s hard to imagine what it will be like in the future when today is pretty scary.
Navigating the pandemic is like finding yourself beamed suddenly into a mysterious large city at nighfall with no street signs or lights with all the stores closed. Talking heads on TV discuss the virus 24/7 with glimmering hopes and widespread confusion. No Moses in my world, just wilderness.
In a world never anticipated 6 months ago you’re told to
- Go home and “shelter in place”—and do outstanding, creative, productive work from your kitchen table.
- Focus on what needs to be done—surrounded by a household of distractions such as
. . . children that need your attention, alternating between difficult online studies and constant video games
. . . househod members stepping out of the shower during Zoom calls
. . . the large piece of pie you suddenly find in your hand that you’re eating for breakfast.
- Develop working relations with colleagues you haven’t seen in months.
- Developing workskills for a 21st Century world where you need to stay professionally relevant
- Staying clean, sane, and entertained—actually living a life in all of this confusion that you enjoy.
So here are a few thoughts about looking to the future when today is very scary:
Find a Place to Put Your Feet. In times of confusion I think I have to do something, so I thrash and flail about hoping that something productive will happen. In times like these I find strength in the words of the ancient philosopher, Archimedes, when he said, (there many versions of this quote) “Give me a firm spot on which I can stand, and I will move the earth.” You are strong and have come through so much in life. Find your life’s foundation which you established long ago where you can firmly stand again. Your foundation is still there below the surface of the confusion and distortion of the times.
Embrace the Love to Erase the Fear. When faced with sickness and death and financial uncertainty you can feel adrift in a stormy ocean in a shakey, tiny lifeboat. Hospitals are filled to capacity, millions are unemployed, unshakable businesses are skaken to their cores. In these situations I erase fear by embracing what I love. 1) I most love those around me who make my life possible and I focus on them. 2) I love to build—our company, the Dream Achievers in the Dream Come True Foundation, 3) I love to learn and grow. If I focus on those things, the stockmarket can tumble 1000 points and I will still embrace what I love in order to erase the fear.
Grow Yourself for Tomorrow. No matter what my situation is, my focus must be on a bright tomorrow. The narrative around us is always negative and designed to stoke our fears.
Here is something I discovered many decades ago:
What you most worry about today will not be what you thought would be your most serious challenge.
In the 1980s oil shortages we were assured by experts that gasoline would soon be at 5 dollars a gallon (3.79 liters) and that only the very richest would be able to own and drive a car. About that same time mortgage rates hit 20% and I had one of those mortgages and was grateful to own a house because we were assured that young people would never be able to afford one. Now gasoline is the equivalent of a few cents a gallon in 1980s money. The average mortgage can be as low as 2 percent. What terrified us in the 80s seems quaint today.
Don’t get me wrong This crisis is the real deal and I don’t expect any kind of comfortabe “new normal” to emerge for at least 3 more years.
A principle of life is that,
“Sure, life is short, but you have a lot more time than you think you do.”
I believe that people born today will live to be well over 100 years, and that the median retirement age, for those who have the privilege of working, will be well into the mid-70s. If this pandemic crisis lasts 5 years, it will be a distant memory during the time that you still have an active life.
Focusing on the fear of the pandemic today will be disastrous for the future of tomorrow. You may have more time today to think about your lifeskills and professional skills than you will have at any other time of your life. Don’t let the fear of today erase the hope of tomorrow.
And think about this: You are writing history. We are writing history. At no other time has this unique perfect storm engulfed the world. So let’s write the history thoughtfully, intelligently, insightfully and compassionately.