I then received an email. This one stood out for me. Partly because they buck the trend with their brand name "Douchebags" - I have one of their roll-up ski bags, highly recommend it. Also because of their CEO, Truls Brataas references this concept of "Antifragility" which is summarised below from Wikipedia.
"Antifragility is a property of systems that increase in capability to thrive as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures. It is a concept developed by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, Antifragile, and in technical papers."
There are some more fascinating insights into the concepts here.
A quick scan of the internet and one can see that Professor Taleb's theories divide people. That said, as we are trying to make sense of what it is going on - maybe one day we will, maybe we won't - it is helping me try and make sense of it. It is evident that no-one on the planet is in control of this. Yet. The daily information is overwhelming, social media streams filled with positivity, confusion, hysteria, panic, misinformation - even to the point that Facebook's algorithm is now censoring legitimate posts about the situation. I digress.
Humans enjoy rigor, process, and structure - when that is taken away from us and we are looking into the unknown, we tend to panic; you just have to look at what is happening in all of our supermarkets. You will note that as of today 18th March 2020, they are now enforcing rules on how we shop, 1984 anyone? But we like rules and processes.
I have had a testing 48hours myself mentally. Fear and panic as I look at the medium-term cash flow of my business, fear about paying the mortgage, bills, etc. Not wanting to put pressure on my Wife and her income stream. Worrying about what the future holds for Olivia who is 4 and Max who is 2. My 70-year-old mother who lives alone as my Father passed away a couple of years ago. I was almost paralyzed, sitting staring at my screen, scrolling through news feeds trying to wrap my head around it all.
Then my accountant emailed me, and everything changed. Offering practical advice on what to do who to call etc.
I felt back in control. I can now see ahead. It is only 6 months ahead. But it is enough that I feel I can now breathe and move things forward. I am sending messages to all of our existing clients, mostly through WhatsApp & LinkedIn, asking how they are and if there is anything we can do to help, no matter what it is. Just ask. I am not freaking out if I don't get a response or the response is a "no" - we are all having to deal with this and work through it - the entire business supply chain is being affected, not just the little bit that you can help on - they may well be dealing with a much larger crisis somewhere else in that business supply chain - not to mention the well being of their staff, their loved ones and themselves.
Take control of what you can.
One cannot and must not ignore the immediate impact this is going to have at a human level. It is going to be a very, very difficult time. Governments around the world are doing what they can. It will never be enough. They are trying.
However, at the same time, those of us who can, because we are fortunate enough to have financial safety nets, work for organizations who will see this through, have our health, we have to start trying to find a way forward through all of this. And it will come.
This will mean working together in ways we have never done before, this may mean collaborating with other businesses we have never done before, even competitors. We will have to accept that for the foreseeable future things are going to be very different. For everyone. The business world has been talking about transformation for what seems like years. Well, the time is now. There is no choice.
What we can be certain of is this. The sun will rise in the East and set in the West. With that will bring a new day, which means we are all one day closer to finding a solution to the current situation. Together. A new way of doing things and, hopefully, humanity will learn from this and be better for it too.
We need to be agile. We need to be able to adapt to changes in supply and demand quickly with our stakeholders. We need to be able to adapt our strategy to go out into the world no matter the climate of the day. We need to be able to adapt from an office to a remote culture instantly without a change in productivity. And we need to be able to stretch and contract our resources like an accordion.