The world seems quite upside down these days and I don’t quite know how to make sense of it. How can a virus cause this much disruption this quickly? This is just so bizarre and unprecedented.
Muse: While that is understandable, what we are witnessing has historic precedence. The bubonic plague, traced back to China by recent gene sequencing, spread into Italy in 1346 and is thought to have eventually killed over half of Europe’s population. Black Death, as it is now known, killed humans within days of infection and ultimately lasted over 400 years with a death toll tallied to eventually exceed 50 million – a staggering number considering the global population hovered around 450 million at the time.
Me: Wow, I had heard of Spanish Flu but not Black Death. The recent scares from SARS,MERS and Zika didn’t seem remotely as deadly and intense as the coronavirus. How could anyone have prepared for COVID-19?
Muse: On November 14th, 2019, CNN reported two cases of the Black Death in China, a story covered repeatedly over the next several days. These advance warnings weren’t remotely sufficient in preparing the world for the sheer velocity with which it has been asked to adapt to an environment that challenges the very notion that defines ‘human’ and that stretches resilience and resolve into uncharted territory.
Those who can’t change their minds can’t change anything
Me: You mentioned that over 50 million people were killed by the bubonic plague. How many kinds of plagues are there?
Muse: An individual can experience three forms of plague, each determined by cause of initial infection. Bubonic plagues spread via animal bites, pneumonic plagues enter the lungs, and septicemic plagues enter the bloodstream. Pneumonic plagues are the most contagious as they are inhaled from the cough of another infected person and quickly spread into the lungs to cause life-threatening pneumonia.
Me: The news is so intense and scary, I feel crippled and helpless at times. How do you suggest I cope with everything that’s going on and also be there for my family?
Muse: Times of crisis cause the collective to think from the amygdala, also known as the ‘fear center’ of the brain. This causes sudden and intense unconscious emotional responses which make it difficult to think clearly, making it crucial to invest in balancing this emotional response.Meditation and exercise are necessary, as are a clean and healthy diet along with plenty of sleep with limited caffeine and alcohol intake. It is more important than ever to take care of the only real estate you inhabit, on a physical, physiological and psychological level. Establish severe limits to daily news exposure. Your environment will benefit from your positive and optimistic mindset.
Me: Ok, I get that I need to exercise, eat better and drink less. I think I’ve been able to cope well and now know I need to step it up another few notches. I’ll even try this meditation thing; I have the time and nothing to lose. I’ll get healthier, but what does a mindset have to do with all this?
Muse: Camp FOMO is closed; redirect time and energy into investing in yourself. The illusion of external control is powerful, with control of the self the only sustainable endeavor. Change is being forced on all, with the path forward well outside conventional comfort zones. It is responsible to embrace the idea that change primarily occurs at the edge of discomfort, and it is as imperative to eliminate sitting in the rut of regret as it is to avoid flying on flights of fantasy.The world is less as it is and more as you see it – change your lens and you change your view.
Me: That is a lot to ask and I will think about it more – maybe during the meditation I will now begin in the mornings. I still have a business to run and am faced with some really tough decisions. What are the best things I can do for my business right now?
Muse: The only way to reach consumers is via screens and speakers. Virtual reality is reality.
Focus on seven core areas right now:
- Protect your employees and customers at all times
- Stress test your P&L and liquidity with worst-case assumptions
- Implement extreme cost controls immediately
- Stabilize operations to adjust to the new normal; assume it is here to stay
- Eliminate non-core assets and divert resources to pockets of growth
- Plan for a seismic shift in customer behavior; avoid inaction
- Communicate with fervor, frequency and healthy fanaticism
Me: Easier said than done, I will need help with many of these. There just seems to be a lot of fear and despair in the air? Is it possible for us to come together at a time like this?
Muse: Humans will undoubtedly reflect inner fear and revisit the importance of title and income relative to health and family. Build longer bridges of understanding across greater distances despite deeper chasms knowing that the future is bright for those who embrace evolution and metamorphosis. Maintain a daily abundance of confidence in the indomitable nature of the human spirit and watch wonders unravel before you.
Me: What wonders could possibly come out of us all sitting at home worried about our health, our families, our income and our safety? Where is the silver lining in all this?
Muse: Humans will revisit their relationship with the earth and its inhabitants, as ‘virtual’ revisits its relationship with ‘reality’. Air pollution will fall to historic lows, and as humans prove their ability to come together as a species to stem the impact from this virus they will learn to leverage these new habits toward other global causes such as climate change and the revisiting of prison populations. The remarkability of human resilience will carry through the awakening that will precede a collective emergence, and this silver lining will bathe both the sky and the soul with its warmth. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your amazing life. Choose how you arrive.