As business advisors / owners, we’re as eager as anyone to press the ignition, shift into drive, smell some commercial exhaust, and begin putting COVID-19 in the rear view mirror.
Any right thinking adult knows that every minute we sit motionless we lose our collective ability to pay (for anything), competitive position, and worse, our self-confidence, as doubt creeps in. In the deep recesses of our minds we wonder, we worry, as individuals and as a nation, do we still have our mojo?
The tens of millions who’ve lost their jobs and their reason to get up in the morning, are asking themselves if they can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And when we do awaken each day, usually from fitful sleep, we realize that this wasn’t just a bad dream. It’s really happening, and we still sit among the dead and dying, in a pile of broken glass, the sirens of incoming ambulances wailing, and the world wondering… WTF?
The first step out of this minefield must begin with the sad realization that this little episode of American exceptionalism doesn’t look or smell so good. Yes, the rest of the world is dealing with this too, but we really stepped in it this time, and no amount of lipstick is going to mask this pig.
As badly as we need to restart, that mustn’t happen, it cannot happen to any significant degree until we get our collective feces in sequence (sorry Mom).
That starts with the realization that this is more, much more than a Republican or Democrat problem, more than a Trump problem, more than a medical problem, it’s an American problem, and that’s how it will get solved, if that’s to happen. So where do we start? What’s the path? A few thoughts:
- Consistent with the need to maintain physical separation, there will need to be some serious continuing spacing and travel restrictions (to, from, and within the country), lest we transport and reintroduce the virus. There are still too many hot zones that cannot be ignored. Translation: Like it or not, some of our personal liberties will continue to be infringed. It matters not if it’s in the name of God, baseball, apple pie or “certain inalienable rights”, we’re all swimming in the same community pool. There is no “peeing section”, period (thank you John Feal).
- We’ve GOT to have the ability (and cooperation) to massively test and trace for the presence and absence of this virus on a robust, instantaneous, user-friendly, global basis. It’s not a transaction, and the cost doesn’t matter! Time does! Absent real-time reliable data, we’re flying blind. This stuff will likely come back, and we can ill afford to give it a three month head start yet again.
- More than at any time in recent history, we need capable and focused leadership. Mr. President, you DO own this, and you can’t lie, spin, fire, assign, or deflect your way out of it, so either lead or shut up and get out of the way. Really, either path is okay, but the nonsense has to stop, here and now.
- We must use this experience to realize once and for all that the American healthcare “system” is anything but a system. Rather it is a moth-eaten patchwork quilt of some dedicated, immensely talented people, and pretty good parts, but with lots of now glaring holes. At 18% of GDP and growing, and in view of this disaster, we must quickly resolve things like: The extent to which we can continue to operate this end-to-end on a for-profit basis; the proper role of government; the readiness of talent, infrastructure and supply chains; the responsibility of the individual, portability of coverage, and the like.
What can (and should) each of us do? We’ve got to be responsible, thinking, discerning, unselfish adults, who realize that we’re not going to get any better than we give. More specifically:
- Handle your (and your family’s) business, every day.
- Pay attention to what’s going on in your community. Commend those who are stepping up. Join them!
- When you see something that’s going wrong, do your part to call it out and fix it. Don’t demonstrate, fix it!
- When you see folks, particularly the elderly or disadvantaged, who could use a hand, give it to them, they’ve earned it. Do it with a smile.
So, in a nutshell, we’ve got work to do, America. Let’s strap on our big boy and girl pants and get after it.