A United Front
“Join or Die” was a rally cry of sorts during the American Revolution. It was Benjamin Franklin’s famous depiction of a snake with the body divided into different pieces all appropriately labeled after each of the current colonial regions. It was a message to the colonists that only if they remained united in their fight, would they have a chance to defeat the British Monarchy.
Abraham Lincoln famously said during the Civil War, “a nation divided cannot stand.” Again, another moment in American history where we were faced with great difficultly. Togetherness was what saved the Union. The phrase remains relevant today in our battle to defeat the global pandemic. Americans need to remain united and stay the course to weather this storm.
America has been dealt tumultuous blows in her storied history. We’ve fought against insurmountable odds in many of our battles. We’ve once tried to destroy ourselves from within. Our country can, and will defeat this. We will rise again. We are a nation that has been around for over two centuries. We have had a few bad years – 1780, 1812, 1865, 1918, 1941, 1968, 2001, 2008, and now 2020. However, progress doesn’t move in a continuous straight line, but over time, the trend moves upward.
The Initial Steps
There are a few things Americans need to do at this moment. First, mentally they need to accept the reality of the situation and prepare to move forward. The world, and our lifestyle, is now divided into pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. It is time to bury the past, and embrace the future. Resisting the change is a mental game that ends poorly.
Second, perspective needs to be utilized on a regular basis. As mentioned above, America has dealt with difficult years. However, she always overcame the difficult times, and improved after the storm subsided. Understanding history and how we fought the battles we were dealt will help during this time.
Third, embrace the mantra ‘evolve or die.‘ The year was 2009. It was a few months since the financial crisis reared its ugly head in the fall of 2008. The dust began to settle, and the reality of the situation set in. I was a banker in Henderson, Nevada. The epicenter of the housing crisis. I remember there were two types of people I interacted with on a daily basis.
Evolve or Die
The first group was what you’d expect. They were struggling, and needed help. Requests were made to reverse fees, forgive loans, and work with them as they dealt with reduced income, or unemployment. Their lives were turned upside down and they were paralyzed with fear.
The second group was contrary to public opinion. They embraced the new normal. A decision was quickly made to wash their hands of past mistakes. They declared bankruptcy, bit the bullet, and began to reinvent themselves to evolve with the new lay of the land. This was the counterculture of the time. It was often someone moving into a whole new line of business, or at a minimum, embracing a new business model to operate with their current skill set. They were frontiersmen and women. They set out to start a new life, and left their old one immediately behind.
Time passed, and I was able to gauge the success of folks in both groups. The second group certainly didn’t succeed overnight, and everyone in that group didn’t return to the same levels of success as time went on. However, most in group two ended up making the right choice after a few tough years early on. Group one resisted the new landscape. They fought hard to maintain their pride, and refused to evolve with the times. It seemed they made the right decision at first, especially when compared to group two, but as years passed, it became evident that they simply slowed the process of an inevitable car crash. They didn’t reinvent themselves, resisted the new lay of the land, and struggled to survive in the new economy that rose from the ashes of 2008’s implosion.
The point is simple. The world has just changed, and despite our leaders informing us that we are reopening soon, we cannot misconstrue that with ‘we are returning to normal.’ Normalcy, or the world as we knew it only 60 days ago will not return for a while, if at all.
America will be united to fight off this pandemic and defeat it. We will win this battle. There will be differences between who individually wins and loses this fight when it’s looked at economically. It will boil down to whoever has the perspective to realize it will be OK, remains positive mentally, and evolve themselves to the new landscape as we move forward. Be like the people who reinvented themselves post-2008, and not the people who resisted the change.
New Business Ideas
There will be new ways we interact with each other, at least temporarily for the next few years. Business models reliant on large gatherings must reinvent how they operate, or close up now. Employees reliant on income from roles involving large groups should seriously consider a new path at this time. Waiting for this situation to improve is not a recipe for success. Anyone who thinks they can conduct business in the same capacity they did a few months ago will be in for a rude awakening. Everything has changed, and those who adapt quickly will be rewarded. Those who would rather resist and fight will be punished. Consumer behavior has been transformed. Habits have been developed, and it is paramount that businesses cater to the new normal.
Roles most impacted at this time are likely related to entertainment and tourism. It is difficult to see any local, state, or the federal government allowing any business reliant on groups of more than 100 operate in any capacity until this completely passes. That will be from either mass testing, or mass vaccinations, both of which remain highly unlikely until spring of 2021 at best. This means anyone who has a job in this space likely doesn’t return for a year. And, if they are temporarily welcomed back over summer for a reduced schedule, the money earned won’t be anywhere near what was once before. Case in point, it isn’t worth your time economically to ride this out and stay the course.
Business owners and self-employed individuals who deal with the public in non-entertainment and tourism ways also need to pivot. Hair stylists, personal trainers, and anyone related to these career paths must be mindful of the pending changes. They’ll have to operate differently. Likely by reservations. They’ll need to remain mindful of those waiting in the lobby. Cleanliness and proper sanitation will become paramount. A reduced amount of clientele is likely, therefore, tough choices need to be made. Raise prices, or work more hours to offset the lost income. The embracing of technology is key. Digital reservations, the ability to service clients in a mobile capacity, and the usage of digital video are some things that come to mind. The need to process payments electronically and send invoices digitally is almost a requirement now. All of these things are what smart business owners need to be considering today if they intend to win back their clients tomorrow.
Finally, those who are resisting the new landscape because they’re bored, lonely, or frustrated with their current situation on any circumstance must make changes immediately before they mentally crumble. This is the new reality. It is time to develop a new lifestyle. Socialites reliant on constant personal contact, as well as those who embrace the element of spontaneity, will suffer the most. Both of these are gone for the time being, and likely won’t return for at least a year. It is time to embrace structure and routines. You won’t make it in this new normal if you don’t. You’ll go insane because you’ll continually fail in your endeavors. Whether this is trying to see someone on a whim, or deciding to just head out and shop at the grocery store. Now, both require preparations before and after.
Those who rely on seeing a lot of friends and family will suffer in this new reality as well. You’ll need to have a trusted, small social circle that you meet up with in social settings like parks and backyards. The reason for this is that you’ll need to trust their whereabouts and the decisions they make with regard to sanitation measures. This isn’t the time to associate physically with the friend or family member who refuses to change their lives on either front. You are trusting this person with your life at this point and if you can’t be confident that they’re taking proper precautions, then you cannot chance it.
All of this may sound bad. It’s new, and likely concerning. Human beings resist change, as it makes us uncomfortable. This exact type of change is peak discomfort. We’re forced to uproot our lives as we know it and develop new ways to physically interact with those we care about. We need to change the way we work. We may even need to change the career we have. These aren’t things that excite us. However, these are necessary to evolve as a society, and as an individual. And, now more than ever, it’s time to either evolve or die.
It isn’t that bad if you can begin to mentally embrace this. Accept the new reality. Relish the time you’ll get with those you care most about. Allow yourself to be creative in how you will work in this environment. Ask yourself if your current career path can sustain this disruption, and if you cannot, let your innovative self explore new options. Embrace this. It’s all about your perspective. There’s never been a better time to plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
Finally, establish for yourself multiple plans based on different scenarios. Give yourself options, and allow for the ability to quickly pivot if needed. Challenge yourself to think of new ways to live life in this new environment while still doing and consuming things you love. If you can do this, you will succeed. Be a leader. Set out on this new frontier to create a new lifestyle for yourself. Blaze the trail to show those you care about how they can move forward in these trying times as well. This is the time to create your own self-help book based on your specific situation. Appreciate it, design it, and implement it. It’s yours for the taking.