Facing Uncertainty

“I had this plan….”

People are waking up every day, stunned and dazed by a world turned upside down. The novel coronavirus has upended everyday life in ways that are unthinkable. Businesses have closed, and jobs everywhere have been lost. Friends and family are testing positive for COVID-19, and so many people are dying. The toll on human worth and dignity has been overwhelmingly harsh. There is an unresolved mourning.

In the midst of all this, any and all plans that we may have hoped for have been dashed. Life is, at best, completely uncertain. As Alvin Toffler defined the title of his 1970 best selling book, we are experiencing Future Shock, i.e. “Disorientation due to premature accelerated change.”

All crises follow a similar path. They have a beginning, a middle and, hopefully in this case, an end. The world that we left behind is never coming back. Business-as-usual is over. As medical solutions and vaccines become available – and only then – we will emerge to a completely new normal. Unfortunately, these medical solutions take time, and in the meantime we face the prospect of a second, maybe even a third wave of COVID-19.

As Alice remarked in Wonderland, “There’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Clearly, the present isn’t what it was, and the future isn’t what it used to be. We stand at the end of an age, and at the beginning of a time not yet defined. Uniquely, however, we have the opportunity to participate in defining it.

There is a familiar refrain these days. “We are all in this together.” At a time of extreme divisiveness, we are beginning to experience a new sense of unity not seen since 9/11. A common, invisible enemy is pulling us together. We applaud the first responders and front line medical people who are fighting for our lives. Food banks have sprung up everywhere. Drive-by birthday celebrations are taking place. There is a heightened sense of responsibility to family, friends, and strangers.

Although required to self-isolate, we cannot get through a crisis alone. In the days ahead we will be challenged to find new ways to create interdependencies, and search for new ways to experience community where we live and work.  It’s time we begin to plan for a future worthy of our children and grandchildren – one that is built upon a foundation integrity, dignity and human worth.

Keith Darcy is President of Darcy Partners Inc., a boutique consulting firm that works with boards and top executives on a wide variety of complex governance, ethics, compliance, and reputation risk challenges. Website: Darcy.Partners

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