Mar 19, 2020
The danger of writing a post during a crisis like the covid-19 outbreak is that months later things will undoubtedly have turned out very different to what I expected.
There is so much uncertainty in so many areas for everyone.
The certainty we do have is that we have to live with that uncertainty for an unknown time - and that we know that our world and lives are going to change in unpredictable ways as the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak unfolds.
But there are universal lessons that help us to do our best during a crisis - whether a virus, or other health crisis, or financial or relationship. Below I'm giving you the top strategies I know for getting through the Covid-19 crisis in the best shape possible.
First, a little backstory of where I learned the hard way about handling a crisis.
It was back in 2011. We were 3 years into running an energy derivatives trading firm (think listed stocks that aren't tied to a company, but to the price of electricity) that three colleagues and I had started from scratch. We had done well with 2010 having just been our best year - outperforming any other fund of our type in Australasia by some margin. But in 2011 our business hit a perfect storm of a category 5 cyclone on one side, and a week of extreme over 40c (100F) heat on the other in two neighboring states (traded wholesale electricity prices are extremely sensitive to extreme weather). It happened too fast to adjust, and in a single day we lost $xx,000,000 in cash (and neither x was a 1). Money in the bank at 8am, gone by 6pm.
Gone. Lost. Splat!
It was a disaster of enormous consequences. An eight-figure loss was a very significant amount of money given the size of our firm.
First came the difficult phone call to the Board of Directors, then our investors and then getting ourselves in a state to take the best action possible even in the face of disaster.
But I made sure I learned the lessons, as I suspected it wouldn't be the only crisis I'd go through in life. Here are the lessons from that crisis, and a few others specific to a more global crisis.
As the saying goes, keep calm and carry on right?
Half right. Keep calm, but of course that doesn't mean keep doing what you were doing nonchalantly ignoring what has happened.
But it is super important to remain calm, because calm people make better decisions.
Sure there are times to panic and use our in-built 'flee or fight' mechanisms, but those mechanisms are designed to help us in the short term. Over the medium or longer term, the damaging impacts on the body that prolonged stress does to us is well documented.
Webmed.com says that 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress -and that is BEFORE Covid-19!
Stress is linked to many health diseases - heart disease, weight gain, weakens the immune system, teeth and gum health, angina, increased stroke risk and poor sex drive and function.
We are all different in what relieves stress and calms us. Perhaps it is meditation, prayer, exercise, a good book. But we all need to be cognizant of our thoughts, because our thoughts drive our emotions and our emotions our thoughts in a continuous feedback loop. If any of that is unhealthy, then it will perpetuate more unhealthy thoughts and emotions. The answer is to intervene. Be aware of your thoughts, challenge them and bring them into your control.
When a crisis is unfolding, and the days and weeks following it, there is nothing worse than getting incorrect information.
To make the best decisions, you need the most accurate information available. How will you do that? My suggestions for this crisis are to:
I'm not going to tell you where to get accurate information from. That's not my place, nor is it in the scope of this short post. Just make it a priority, and you will find a way.
They say you are the average of your friends. If you want to have a clear head, healthy perspective and be in the best position to make wise decisions, then severely limit your time (code for NO time) with friends who worry. The last thing you need is other people winding you up, stirring up worry and fear.
Now if you are a calm person who is not influenced by others, then certainly you could have a role in helping to calm others down. But still limit this contact. There is enough fear going on in your own head without importing it from others.
"there is enough fear going on in your head without importing it from others" - Guy Mullon
Sometimes it is better to live 'under a rock' and not know everything that is going on. I'm not saying go to that extreme, but find a balance between staying informed and not having so much 'noise' that you can't think or function without worrying.
Crisis always bring opportunities.
The challenge for you is to be awake and aware to what opportunities this crisis brings.
The question to ask yourself is:
"What does this crisis make possible?"
Opportunities don't present themselves to people sitting still. Take some action, look around, take more action, look around etc and you will begin to see things you didn't see before.
A ship at anchor or even adrift cannot be steered to a destination. Get moving, and adjust your direction based on what you learn.
But what do I do? If you have a plan, follow it. If you don't but you want one, then spend some time thinking about what you want most. For others it is often best to move slowly in a direction - any direction - until you get enough information to decide whether you should continue or change course.
But keep moving. Take action, and adjust as you go. Giving into the fear of making a mistake will lead you to certainty of making one.
Procrastination could just be your biggest enemy right now - driven not by laziness, but by fear, doubt, worry, lack of direction or a solid action plan or by poor focus on what you really want.
I have a brilliant training (it's not just me that says so - check out these references 😃 ) all about HOW to defeat procrastination and get more done. Click below to check out when the next training is:
Note:During the 'social distancing' period here in Australia, all keynotes and workshops will be streamed live and online.
When something big shakes our world, it causes us a lot of mental grief because it shakes our security, our identity and what we see the future holding. This problem is worst when we are placing our security in something that is not secure. Like building a house on sand, the house can seem secure, but when the wind and waves come, the house falls.
So during a time of crisis it is critical that we examine what we are placing our security in.
If it is health - that can go south
If it is money - that can sprout wings and fly away (as mine did!)
If it is your partner, family, kids or other relationships - they can also end and be gone forever.
When I went into the office that Monday morning, not knowing how bad that day would be - but knowing it would be my worst ever - I leaned upon the one thing that I knew would never change. And when I heard a busker playing 'It is well with my soul' in the train station, it reminded me that however bad my situation was, my Father in Heaven and His son Jesus were with me through it. For me, this verse holds true:
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. ... In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice." part of Psalm 18
Find a rock that doesn't move that your future is secure in.
As a result of all of us in the office not just coping, but thriving in this crisis, we set about the task of making the money back. It took 9 months, but we made almost all back (short by about $1m) by the end of the year.
We were changed forever, our future was vastly different post crisis, but we made it and were stronger for it.
You too can pull through in this crisis, and come out better at the other end.