I recently heard a presentation (no names to protect the guilty) where once again there was the adjective “unprecedented” followed by “we have never experienced more uncertainty”.
My guess is that these people were under 35 years old.
The privilege of being old, I guess, is perspective. Things are different, yet the same. In 1973 I was in the recreation vehicle business and we experienced the “Arab oil embargo”. Long lines waiting for what gasoline might be left at the gas station. Fights broke out in the queue. People were unnerved. Travel was an adventure. The economy tanked. Our plant shut down for six months.
Shortly thereafter was massive inflation. I was pulled off my usual work to revalue the inventory and figure out advantages of LIFO or FIFO valuation among other things—oh, we didn’t have anything on a computer. It was paper and my trusty Singer calculator. I was also trying to plan purchases of components with 24-36 week lead times which meant predicting sales and production months out. (Hint: I guessed wrong.)
That doesn’t even go back to my great-grandparents and the Spanish Flu of 1918 or my grandfather and father in the Great Depression and then World War II. In the Depression, people were not merely inconvenienced, they rightly wondered where their next meal would come from.
The common thread? The creativity and resilience of human beings. For example, Grandpa turned a plant that manufactured refrigerators into one manufacturing machine gun bolts to do his part for the war effort.
All over the world, people worked to restore and even to grow and thrive after catastrophes. At least now we have some political leaders and many business and technology leaders working to prevent worst case scenarios. The scientific efforts to understand the virus and develop medicines and vaccines are massive. Manufacturing turnaround, not as easy as politicians make it seem, from making one thing to making necessary supplies has been great. People on the ground making crucial treatment and preventive decisions hour-by-hour have saved myriad lives as well as adding knowledge to the effort.
The human spirit is a marvelous thing. Things are serious, but if we all help prevent the spread of the disease, and help each other out, and support productive efforts, then we’ll come out on the other side stronger than ever.
Those aren’t stories you’ll see on Fox or CNN or MSNBC or wherever. But important work is proceeding.
There is no time for all the unproductive politicking. Shake off the scarcity attitude. Take on a resolute attitude—not merely optimistic, but a “we can survive and go on to thrive” attitude. Truly this is a time for entrepreneurial leaders to take charge.