MANY OF US LONG for what it was like in January. Back then we were confident, bold, full of hope and expectation. We posted on social media how glad we were of getting past the challenges of 2019; that 2020 was a year of not only a growing economy, but growing opportunities. Now, after 3 months of social distancing, uncertainty, fear; a flood of daily news of companies laying off workforce, others going out of business, and streets full of protesters and rioters, the new normal has turned into managed depression. It seems our days of bold ambition have been replaced by worried compliance. On calls and in Zoom meetings you hear and see the fatigue. We’ve lost our spark. Our drive. Our collective ambition.
Jim Collins in his book Good to Great talks about the Stockdale Paradox, a phrase that was coined from the insights about a military commander and how he was able to survive the great stress of war. In a recent YouTube video Collins reminds us that all crisis should be addressed in two ways:
- Having the discipline to accept reality. Those that wear rose-colored glasses and have a blind optimism suffer a broken heart when reality doesn’t reflect their worldview.
- Having faith in the future. While the current reality might be bleak, we have to believe we will survive and thrive.
Neuroscience suggests that the fear and anxiety we experience because of COVID- 19 will naturally narrow our ability to see our future and envision creative solutions to our problems.
We have to recapture the ability to dream and reclaim our confidence while at the same time look reality in the eye. If we don’t reconnect to the optimism of January, the COVID pandemic that lingers on in June, July, August will have not only broken our economy, but it will have broken our national spirit. It’s time to get back on the horse and do what we do best: Build, develop, innovate, collaborative, invent, serve, reflect and dream.