While mentoring a new recruit in the police force, Louise Penny’s fictional chief inspector Armand Gamache said, “There are four sentences we learn to say and mean.” Gamache then held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point:
“I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong”
As the whole world is going through an epic crisis, Gamache’s life lessons are something we all need to be cognizant of. A true leader is not worried about protecting their own brand image in moments of crisis, but embraces statesmanship with humility and wisdom. Further, each of us needs to step up and be a leader in our own lives and deal with crisis with pragmatism. Gamache’s words are a good starting point.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced her five stages of grief model. You have probably seen people going through these five stages in the last few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Denial: Many at first believed that COVID-19 was just another flu and lived their life normally.
- Anger: As we become irritated with lifestyle changes imposed by COVID-19, we find blame and fault in others. With our freedom of space redefined, our savings eroded, and our livelihood at stake, anger rises.
- Depression: Certain parts of the world have already experienced numerous deaths and terrible suffering creating an environment of gloom. Prolonged isolation has resulted in dullness and depression in many sections of the world.
- Bargaining: To give ourselves hope, we create bargains in our minds: “in just a few weeks or months, everything will be fine,” and we start making adjustments with a mindset of compromise.
- Acceptance: It’s only when we truly and humbly accept reality deep inside our minds with no resentment that we can find peace and calmness despite the chaos and drama caused by of these unforeseen circumstances
Every member of our global family will go through their own cycle of these five stages of grief. Everyone will have their own reference frames and viewpoints, inertia caused by their own ego-system, and access to their own inferential data as a function of their relative experiences, which they observe in their own vicinity. Therefore, everyone will gradually make their own journey through these stages of crisis. Understand that this progression is never a simple linear process. This progression can take any curve – exponential rise, cyclical repetition, or gradual flattening. The way we know “normal” will keep changing.
Each one of us, in minor or major ways, will be affected by this crisis. It is thus imperative that we truly accept the crisis and then gradually allow ourselves to live through it. So, what do we need to do?
Be aware of the ostrich syndrome
The ostrich syndrome in psychology is based on an ostrich’s fear response; sometimes when it’s attacked, it hides its head in the sand although its body still remains exposed. Fear leads to panic and ignorance. We live in a world of information, so make sure you consume it from the most trustworthy sources (ideally, medical organizations) and be aware of what you need to do, with a true understanding of the problem and without freaking out. There is no point in living in a virtual-reality bubble. Accept the facts and instructions from the medical community with complete dedication, respect, and humility.
Adjust your vision to darkness
When you enter a dark room, you instantly react with discomfort (sometimes even fear). Our natural tendency is to switch on the lights. But what if you can’t find the light switch? If you panic and start running around in the darkness, you may get injured. However, if you just sit still and let your eyes adjust to the darkness, slowly you will see enough to navigate the room. You can then find and switch on the light or find a flashlight.
Allow yourself to get adjusted to this new normal of living life in quarantine. It may get worse, so train your mind to embrace the as-is. Accepting the truth and gradually finding ways to live through the crisis with prudence and calmness is a sustainable, wise path to walk. The more you panic and revolt in quicksand, the deeper you sink. So, settle down, breathe easy, start accepting this new way of life, and let the global scientific and medical community do its job.
Trust science and technology
Yes, this is one of the biggest crises we have experienced in the last few decades. However, do not forget that the world is blessed with the most amazing scientists and powerful scientific and technology organizations the world has ever seen. With the greatest of scientific minds and software working on solving this problem, it’s just a matter of time before we have a solution to the deadly COVID-19. Extensive medical research is going on, backed with the latest Big Data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence software to support research into COVID-19’s cure and visibility into the pandemic’s spread.
Organizations are coming up with innovative solutions to address the massive supply-chain disruptions resulting from this new quarantine economy.
The way ahead
As individuals, we need to just relax and do the best we can, in our own small way, to help:
- Stay quarantined at home
- Pursue a hobby at home to keep your mind fresh and healthy
- Do video calls with friends, family, and colleagues to stay connected virtually
Being stressed in such dire circumstances is absolutely natural. Start building coping mechanisms for managing your own stress. This is a moment we need to be cohesive as one global family, stay connected virtually, and be there for each other in kindness, compassion, and wisdom.
Learn more about “COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call For The Global Village.”