With the advent of COVID 19, almost a year ago in the United States, there has been a transformation in how we look at ourselves, our relationships, work, and as a society in general. Where pre-COVID we trafficked in a currency of confidence and a “can-do” attitude we now use the currency of fear. Fear shuts down connections. Fear shuts down conversations. Fear shuts down moving forward. Fear isolates us. As social human beings this last one, isolation, is the one that has wreaked the most mental and emotional damage.
Fear causes us to grieve. We grieve because we have lost our sense of normal. We may have lost loved ones, our jobs, or our homes. Grief is the death of something. And fear triggers grief because we have lost our sense of normal and at the same time, as we move forward day by day, we have no sense of certainty about the future. In a way we are afraid to step out and move forward.
Our fears are legitimate. And they are valid. The question is: How do we choose to act based on our fears? That’s where we have discussions that can turn into arguments. Arguments that will not be solved because they are about fear. And arguments that cause even further isolation.
We are all going through this for the first time. We are learning. And learning can be painful. Painful, in that without a firm foundation in facts (because they change depending on the point of view) we find that even with more learning we have less certainty.
Here’s what I do know. COVID 19 appears to be the most contagious virus I have encountered in my lifetime. You can take a lot of restrictive measures and it will still spread. So, the basic question for me, is not whether or not it is contagious. I have had the flu in the past and bronchitis. The question for me is how TRULY deadly is it?
And from what I have seen and read, like the flu, if you have co-morbidities, conditions that make you less likely to put up a strong fight, you could have a very rough time and at worst, die. Yes, COVID 19 is serious. But as the cases spike, the one number that is virtually hidden or not talked about is the survival rate. All of us are going to get sick with something during our lives. My question is about the most important thing, survival. Without survival, the possibilities that are life are gone.
When accurate statistics are kept (and this has been a huge challenge…and I will leave it at that) the survival rate is over 99 percent. As with anything in business and life, when we let the 1 percent possibility rule our thoughts and subsequent actions, we end up not moving forward. We end up not living life. We exist through it. We focus on survival. Why not focus on the 99 percent about positives and possibilities instead of the 1 percent on fear?
The reason most people don’t is that it is not politically correct to do that. You don’t want to be viewed as not caring or a bad human being. And, all that will do is increase your social isolation.
I encourage each of you to look at your situation realistically in terms of survival. Look at the 1 percent and ask yourself what that is causing you to do with the other 99 percent that is your business and life. For each of you, the answer will be different. But without a way to move forward and grow, we are confining ourselves to a slow death. The slow death of diminished value and contribution which over time robs you of accomplishment, joy, and happiness. Focus on self-improvement.
Find ways to add value to yourself during these challenging times. You will be better for it as you go through this time with COVID and you will be better positioned to accelerate the process of your successful performance once we are on the other side of COVID 19.