It’s currently March 31st, 2020. The World at large has been turned upside by the infamous virus known as “Coronavirus” (COVID-19).
Like many people, I have a plethora of mixed emotions, new stress, and occasional anxiety. This global crisis has thrown us all for a spin whether you’re young, old, sick, healthy, or any human status in between. We are indeed living in “uncertain” times and the virus is just heating up. This is serious.
The impetus for writing this post is not to install more fear or anxiety into your mind. It’s not to talk about statistics that have already been shared. Nor is it to tell you how to save your business during this crisis.
Instead, I want to share some immediate reflections and then offer some suggestions on how to look at this situation. This post is for me, it’s for [you reading] during these times, and it’s for my children to read years from now when they can better comprehend what the World went through.
How did we get here?
For starters, I think it’s helpful for us all to realize how we got here.
There is no need to talk about the intricate details of how the virus started in China, and what specific chain of events sparked the outbreak. However, it is important to realize how it got this big this fast.
That has everything to do with human negligence.
We knew months ago that this had potential to spread. I was boarding a plane to Guatemala on Jan 30th with my family. My brother had just flown in from China, coincidentally! And sure enough, the World was merely “noticing” Coronavirus. Nobody but China was taking it seriously at that time. Nobody thought it could affect them, too. I was included in this pool of ignorant people.
Fast forward only two months – and virtually every country is considering lock-down status and high degree of government intervention. That’s fast. We haven’t had intervention like this in my lifetime (at 35 years old), so again, this is serious. It’s time to wake up if you haven’t already.
We as a human race failed to see this early on. We should realize that failure before anything else.
*Reflection: “We didn’t pay enough attention. We didn’t put our guard up.”
Where are we now?
At the time of this writing (3/31/2020), here are the rough stats:
- 192 / 195 Countries infected
- 800,000 Infected people
- 38,000 Deaths
- 162,000 Recovered
These numbers have been building every single day. This goes to show how fast this particular virus spreads. It’s analogous to a wildfire – once it starts spreading it’s very hard to stop. The best way to stop it now is not a cure or vaccine, but rather an attempt to minimize human contact. This has been coined #SocialDistancing for all humans to follow.
With that in mind, most major cities in the World are either in or considering lock-down status. This means no leaving your home outside of critical need. These needs generally include:
- Grocery store visits
- Medical emergencies
- Other trips affecting your survival
As I mentioned before, I’ve never seen this in 35 years of existence on this planet. It is truly a pandemic, as they call it.
To spark some hope, I am confident there will be a vaccine in circulation soon. But that doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it solve the problem entirely. Right now, the best way to minimize the total impact is to decrease the rate at which the virus spreads.
*Reflection: “This continues to build… what can I do to help minimize the spread?”
Answer = #StayAtHome
If you haven’t already caught on, it’s time to stay at home. Most of you are starting to abide but I still see so many people taking short trips and making excuses to leave your home. You need to stop, and you need to stop now.
Listen up –
Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you’re putting anyone else you come into contact with at risk. This includes people in your home! That short trip to the gas station or Home Depot is not worth it. You need to be mindful of how you might carry and pass the virus to others, especially if they’re 60+ and at-risk. This is not a joke. If you’re not staying home you’re contributing to the problem. Stop that shit now.
There is no reason to go out with exception to short walks for exercise and/or critical needs. Period.
Part of this impact has been how we adapt to self-quarantine home life. For many people, this is completely new territory having everyone locked in and forced to remain home. Nothing is open and most public systems have closed. The kids are home from school and everything’s going virtual.
*Reflection = “So this is what the near future might look like when VR takes over and we conduct most human interactions virtually…”
My family has been locked down for almost 3 weeks now. Like most families, we’re going a little stir crazy as we adjust to the new patterns and schedule. However, I’ve worked part-time from home for years now… and my wife is stellar at staying home with our young kids, so I consider us less affected.
We’re also fortunate to have enough space in our house/yard to keep daily life somewhat diversified. We spend a couple hours outside every day, including short neighborhood walks, and then bounce around different rooms to keep daily life unique.
That said, I have compassion towards larger families stuck in smaller living quarters right now. That is not an easy life to accommodate. Their challenge is much greater during this time.
*Reflection = “Be grateful for space. We take for granted how valuable it is.”
Business / Economy
The economic impact of Coronavirus is massive. The stock markets are in flux, offline businesses are scrambling to adapt, and online businesses are flooded with unforeseen demand. The effects were instant and recovery for some businesses will take months, if not years. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed as a result. People everywhere are scrambling. Scrambling to find a new/temp job – or – scrambling to hire and support new/temp growth.
That’s the best way to describe business right now – it’s scrambled.
I’m fortunate to operate software businesses. So I’m on the side that is not taking a financial hit, but instead, looking for ways to serve.
This is the time for businesses like mine to step up and lead. We’re coaching offline businesses on ways they can transition and stay afloat until foot traffic comes back. It’s time to pause normal goals and objectives. We must shift to aid and service of the present situation.
If you’re a software business owner reading this I encourage you to think about how you can be of service. It’s not time to take advantage. It’s time to lead and leave a legacy. People will remember how you handled this.
*Reflection = “You can never completely rely on a physical storefront to keep you in business.”
I know that last reflection is circumstantial, but Coronavirus has made it essential. You MUST distribute your product/service offering online in some way at this point in human history. Neglecting the internet today is like saying you want to go out of business soon.
Now that I’ve shared some reflections, it’s time to take action.
How do we take action?
The only logical place to take this post is where we go from here. What do we do now? How do we take action?
This is where it gets good, so thank you for reading if you’re still around.
First, think about what’s right in front of you, especially if you’re a family. It’s easy to see a crowded house with lots of noise and volatility. But I see this instead:
Quality Time with Family
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend quality time with family. It’s unlikely you will get this kind of time again. So get off the devices and look at each other. Laugh, sing, tell stories, be the silly/unique family that lets you carry a last name you own.
Be with each other.
“What would my 75 year-old self tell me right now, if he could?”
“Take advantage of this time. It probably won’t happen again, so make sure you soak up every moment.”
That’s pretty accurate for most of us. There won’t be another time in history where families are stuck in home quarantine for weeks. So let’s take 75 year-old Jim’s advice and make the most of it.
Focused Time for Yourself
Outside of family, this is also a perfect excuse to work on you. If there’s anything you’ve been planning to get caught up on or meaning to do, NOW is the time.
Here are some suggestions:
- Learn something new using the internet
- Jump into a new book
- Pick up an old hobby (i.e. instrument or woodworking)
- Do a personal fitness challenge
- Start a new online business (there’s never been a better time!)
- Pick up a pen and start journaling
- Put a scrapbook or picture album together
- Download some new podcasts
Starting to get the point? There’s never been a better time to use time how you want.
Get Into Shape
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fitness advocate. Working out has been a part of my routine since high school. It’s how I stay grounded, especially when chaos is present.
Check out my recent Instagram posts on #StayAtHomeFitness 😉
To that end, I would challenge you to use this time to get into shape. There is no excuse. The time is now. Get off our ass and become the fit human you were meant to be.
Here are some ideas:
- Stream online workouts via YouTube or other online service
- Do some yoga
- Start running again
- Do a 30-day bodyweight challenge (i.e. pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks)
- Order some dumbbells or at-home workout gear
- Buy a new treadmill or in-place bike (that’s what I’m doing)
- Get your benchpress back to where it was during high school
Do not let this time put you into worse shape. Fight the temptation to sit around. Get up and get active. Punch Coronavirus right in the mouth.
Distraction Free Environment
With this abundance of time comes an isolated environment, which provides you with shelter from distractions. For most of us the workplace is off limits, our social spots have closed, and the normal hangouts have been removed from the schedule.
Use this as an advantage, not a limitation. Cleanse yourself of the constant social hits you’re normally accustomed to. Consider it a social detox, if you will.
That includes staying off the devices! It’s so easy to turn the news on every hour, or check Facebook for the latest feed updates. But guess what – there’s nothing in there to save you right now.
In fact, I would encourage you to only check for updates once daily. That’s been my personal practice and it’s more than enough “Coronavirus mindshare” for 24 hours. No significant change is happening from one morning to the next, and if it does, I’ll catch it first thing the next day. Simple.
So get off the devices and find mental clarity.
Support Small Businesses
If you have the financial means, I would urge you to continue supporting small businesses. It’s not time to pocket all your money and hide in a closet. The economy will bounce back. Business will boom again. We can minimize the total impact by keeping small businesses afloat. After all, they are the true backbone of our commerce system.
For example, we just ordered pizza for delivery the other night. Is there risk there of contracting the virus from that? Of course. But I’m putting faith in small business owners to operate responsibly.
I’m living in confidence, not fear.
My wife and I will continue to conduct normal online purchases as well. I just ordered a new book from Amazon. We did a grocery request through Instacart, which keeps people employed. We’ll likely order some new games from online retailers for our kids during this time.
We’re not shutting down our entire lifestyle, we’re just adapting.
Be smart with your money during these times, but don’t hoard it. Put it to use for the right reasons. Keep faith in small businesses to adjust and serve you.
Let’s come together
On top of all this, I see an opportunity to come together and prove [again] how resilient the human race is. As contagious and deadly as Coronavirus is, it won’t stop us. It’s merely a chapter in our story. A chapter that we’ll learn from and use as an example.
As a result, we have to come together. We can do this!
- Listen to your government and local leaders. Do not be that guy or girl who defies public mandates and continues to gather socially. Do your part and #StayHome.
- Stop hitting up the grocery store every other day. Use online services instead. And when you do shop, be considerate and only buy what you truly need.
- Prevent going in for healthcare unless you absolutely have to. Encourage everyone around you to do the same so we can preserve care and equipment for those who need it most.
- Become the best version of yourself during these times. Work on your habits and find ways to create discipline.
- Step up and lead. Give people a reason for hope. They need it now more than ever.
Be the example, not the lesson.
Final notes for my children
I want to close with some final notes for my children to read years from now. These are a summarization of my reflections and suggestions, which I hope carry some value and insight for years to come.
- Never take an airborne virus lightly.
- Use information to be proactive instead of reactive.
- Remember how important quality time with family is.
- Remember how precious space can be.
- Never stop working on you.
- Keep proper distance from social distractions.
- Always remember to support small businesses.
- Maintain confidence in the human race, no matter what.
Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.