I was a teenager when Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel prize and read the book “Love in the Time of Cholera”. In the time of COVID-19 both having a clear mind and acting lovingly are essentials to make the very best of a dire situation.
This pandemic is the first to be paired with the apocalypse horse, SOCIAL MEDIA, and access to news around the clock. It’s easy to become very concerned while reading about the rate of infected persons, the number of deaths, and panic stricken world leaders who cough themselves through press conferences. So, I decided to focus on what I can control, which is my mind and to foster clear thinking.
Currently apart from new laws to work with that need to be implemented very quickly, the news brings more fear than positive solutions for me. Even before the pandemic I was reading a book called “Stop Reading the News: A Manifesto for a Happier, Calmer and Wiser Life” as motivation to cut down on reading useless “news”. Understanding what actually is news is a good first step to putting ourselves on a news diet is good to help us stay as calm and clear thinking as possible.
When the COVID-19 hit, many of us started working from home (WHF) and some even left the cities for safer country-life. All of sudden, social media activity exploded as it provided possibilities for connectedness. Social Media is a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Also, Online sources are abundant for around the clock reports on the global situation. I bet that I’m far from alone picking up the phone first thing in the morning to check the news. Dopamine levels are way up along with anxiety and muddled thinking.
As an entrepreneur, servicing both smaller firms and multinationals, it’s necessary to understand what they are going through. What are the challenges, worries and needs in these times?It’s not easy to stay one step ahead of this virus since there are many unknowns.
Starting from a place of love and care for others puts us in a place that is calmer and more healing. Thinking of the greater good also removes our tunnel vision as empathy always does. We can also ask “What is important”?
Contribute to the well being of others and providing value every day.
Identify who you can help or where you can’t
Focus on actions that matter
Do what you can do today
Stay positive and realistic.
See everything as a learning experience
Some examples to explain what I mean below - you will have to find your own best places to contribute.
- To my community - I have already stocked up on some food for my elderly neighbors. I haven’t told them so they don’t feel old, but it’s there in case of need.
- To our clients - what do they need? What worries them? What can we do to help and set up programs for that. Different times, different solutions.
- For our team members - offset home office loneliness with videoconferencing twice daily. Make sure they are healthy and try to help with information or supplies if and when needed.
- For friends - answer the phone, provide a listening ear, help with practical things and laugh.
- For family, get out of the house and go skiing, do family yoga, cook and play games to offset the acute boredom of being inside all day long.
To clear your mind is different for everyone. Here are some things that work,
1. Be intentional with your actions and words.
2. Be well rested - in a word go to bed on time.
3. Keep your mind clear of senseless social media/online information. While it may be necessary to stay up-to-date, keep it on a schedule. It’s hard to avoid tunnel vision when the media coverage is only covering the virus, companies closing, and events being canceled.
4. Meditate and exercise.
5. Eat healthy foods
6. Read, reflect and connect with others.
When and why is a clear mind essential in times of crisis?
THE LONG GAME OF RUNNING A BUSINESS
Tough decisions require clear thinking. When you play a long game of entrepreneurship there are difficult decisions along the way. One of the most important questions relates to timing. What can we do at a given time, and how can we make decisions when there are a lot of uncertainties. Acting on a ”what we know today” basis is the only thing that can be done.
A clear mind considers both short term and long term issues, which in the time of Corona can require emergency decisions and long term strategic planning. We already hear about this from restaurants, hotels, airline industry and lots of stores and retail chains who are making big and fast decisions. Closing stores, reducing headcounts can seem drastic, but these decisions may be needed for the long game. Staying in business comes first.
I’ve talked to a company that has lost a considerable amount of business in recent weeks, and while the last person started only a few days ago, they will remain in the company while some old-timers will have to leave. Role and function trumps seniority since the role is future oriented. These are grueling times for Managers, but long term strategy foregoes short term logic. This is also reflected in the Harvard Business Review article which has a lot of merit when studying companies and how they grew, shrank and crumbled during the last recession. A mix of actions had to be taken by management, and a mix of stringent fiscal control and strategic investments in the future were the secret sauce to success. Only cutting back doesn’t necessarily set a company up for success. When the wheels start turning again, the slowing down time should have been used fully to rethink, restructure and tweak all processes to cut down operational costs and increase efficiency.
Management has a duty to care of business continuity and care for all the stakeholders starting with co-workers, clients and authorities. Short and long term decisions must be made while considering the long game.
Everyone is under a great deal of pressure and we are facing a situation that is unprecedented in our lifetime. Aiming to act carefully and yet see opportunities and avantgarde solutions is essential for success.