Hello, my friends. I hope you're doing well and not fighting with the kids too much (I know I am). We are in this together so I'm wishing you the best.
Like all of us, I imagine that you're doing a lot of soul-searching and introspecting. Hopefully, you're not drinking and eating too much! (Have you heard of the COVID-15 lbs)!? Don't let it get you!
(A.D.D kicking-in right away)
Seriously though, with all of this inward focus, I also hope you're thinking outwardly. Thinking about who you can lead and be a blessing to. Regardless of our situation, we can help lead or encourage others in some way. Not everything costs money so let's not make excuses, right? (You have time don't you? ;)
I want to help us frame our minds and put things into perspective. I want us to start asking the right questions and giving better answers. Many people are freaking out right now - some for good reasons, and some are driven by fear.
The Two Pandemics
2. Fear, panic and the fall-out
It is debatable on which of the two are more deadly or destructive. Has this been blown out of proportion? I definitely think so. As of this article, the total dead in MN is 85 and the average age of those who died is 86 years old.
It's very hard to mentally balance the tragedy that people are dying millions of people's careers, businesses and livelihoods. I'll stop there and we will be having that debate very soon. Right now, it's too early.
The point is, we are facing 2 problems. Since we cannot fight a ghost (the virus) we're going to focus on #2, the fear and fall-out. I think the fear and fall-out is a much greater threat. I'm going to offer some practical advice to help us lead, survive and hopefully thrive through these difficult times.
Have The Courage to Speak the Truth & Ask Questions
How we can lead when we're too afraid ask the tough questions? There is a ton of misinformation so why not ask!? I'm sensing a culture that suppresses what you can/cannot say. It's also suppression of the mind. It's coming from the media, tech companies, so-called leaders, social media, and people who are spreading that narrative. If I'm being honest, when I want to say something it feels like walking through a minefield. If you're too cheery and optimistic, people start thinking you're irresponsible (Stay inside!!). If you have doubts regarding this pandemic or you ask too many questions, you could be called a conspiracy theorist.
I understand how serious this is. I want to be empathetic to those who are sick and vulnerable. On the flip-side, is it fair to why are people's lives are getting wrecked over this? I know what many of you are going to say... "Money is not as important as people's lives!" Obviously - I agree with that but I'm still going to ask.
Back to speaking the truth. This reaction to this virus is destroying EVERYTHING that people have worked for and built for their entire lives. The consequences are emotional, time invested, lose of homes and businesses. Families & individuals are being affected in so many ways that we can't even imagine. They too, need to be able to speak up. As of early April, we have 16 million jobs lost. Small businesses are closing, others are not able to pay rent or groceries.
Let's ask the hard questions
Is it possible that this pandemic could end up being as bad as the experts told us? It could..
Can we trust the "experts" to give us correct predictions and make decisions for the entire state/nation? Often times based off of computer models!
Who is giving us these predictions? 74,000 people dead in MN? The curve is not showing that
Do certain people have an agenda behind these wild predictions
Do some (political) people want to tank the economy?
Are the cases of COVID-19 being inflated for some reason?
Can we trust anything that China says? (ah no).
Can we afford to shut down for much longer?
Will this thrust us into a depression?
Is it possible that the "experts" could be off by 90% and this could be a huge overreaction?
During these volatile times, could evil forces be working to implement policies/laws/systems that could take our freedoms?
Could there be a silver lining - maybe we needed this (in some ways)?
Learn how to Detach Yourself
We can't lead well if we are mentally "in the trenches". You can't see or focus when you're knee-deep in the mud of the trenches (fear and drama. You need to detach from the situation and see things from an outside perspective. See the two pictures. Which perspective would you choose when assessing the battlefield? We look back on WWI and leaders had to use pigeons to send messages or they had to embed with the troops in the trenches. Now our
commanders have the ability to see things from satellite or drone and issue commands from a calm, air-conditioned office.
Another example of detachment is during a marriage counseling session. The therapist is able to see/hear each perspective from the outside (detached) from the emotions of the couple. From that position, they're able to offer sound advice.
Stay calm and detach yourself and your decisions and communication skills will improve greatly.
Are You a Shadow Leader?
Most people have the potential/ability to lead in some way. When it comes to being a
leader, many people choose the path of least resistance (to stay silent - to hide). Have you been a secret leader? Living in the shadows? Maybe you have passed through situations where you have failed to act? We all have, but maybe this is a common theme for you? Has your conscience convicted you? Here are a few scenarios that might hint that you are (currently) shadow leader.
You have had important opportunities to speak - and you stayed quiet.
You witnessed an injustice - yet you walked the other way.
You had a great chance to help or encourage someone, and you always find a way to rationalize an excuse not to help or say anything.
You witnessed a blatant lie - and you didn't have the guts to speak up.
You're too afraid to voice your opinion because it might offend someone.
You don't bother asking questions so as not to "stir the pot".
I will not be silent any longer. How about you?
Maybe you're a jr. leader? Like a child with a little brother/sister. That's OK. Do you lead a family, a corporation, or an entire state? Do you have a following on social media? You can't escape it, people are watching you and they're looking for leadership. Step into it...
I believe that this pandemic could have effects that could last a decade or a few months and it largely depends on you and I. The government has a role in this but they are unable to manage the situation. We are the boots on the ground. You and I drive and support these communities, not the government. The government will provide band-aids (and that is also needed). My goal with this article is to draw leaders out of the shadows. I'm writing this for you and for myself.
How To Deal With The Fearful
I think most people are handling this well when it comes to fear. I see a lot of support and outreach so this makes me very happy. I've also heard stories of people lashing out and turning against each other. I heard from a police officer that 3/4 of their calls are domestic abuse calls. Many are predicting that the divorces will spike during this time. I hope not.
In this section, I don't want to seem over-dramatic but I want you to recognize fear when you see it. Do you remember the villain in the movie Batman Begins - Scarecrow? Do you remember his weapon? He created a fear toxin and unexpectedly sprayed it into the faces of his victims. The terror (in their mind) would immobilize some people. For others, it would make them aggressive.
As leaders, we really need to recognize this type of fear and treat the fearful appropriately. Use a little empathy my friends. Batman didn't destroy Scarecrow's victims, he gave them the antidote - he helped them. In this season, you're going to have to absorb some punches (some abuse). Don't lash-out in response. Take it - absorb it. You can handle it. It's not going to feel good or be fair, but that's what leaders do. Here is a video about some of the burden you might feel - enjoy.
Adapt the Infinite Mindset
Do you, or did you ever play sports? That's a finite game, meaning you can win - there is a final score.
If you practice martial arts, have a marriage, owe a business have children then you'll understand that never really ends. This is an Infinite Game. For example, if you think you've mastered being a husband, I can have your wife tell you - you've got a ways to go!
This is very profound. I hope you watch the video or read the book - The Infinite Game.
Recognize the silver lining
How can we grow and make the best of this? Since I heard so many people talking about "Silver Lining", I wrote down a list.
Refocus of people’s minds, values, thoughts, and priorities
Learn new skills
To value money - not worship money
Shallow thinking like social status and material wealth doesn't have much worth now
People's unhealthy pride/ego will be checked
Start saving and invest
People will see that idol conversations and gossip were never worth having
We will be more united - Political correctness, labeling people doesn’t matter as we are just people.
Prepare more - think and plan better for the future
Call back to God
Waste less and value materials, food and resources
Workaholics will need to stop and pause
People will have to face their relationships and slow down
Amend broken relationships
Crush bad ideologies like socialism/communism/fascism/race supremacy etc.
Recognize that cultures that work hard and prepare can survive vs those who never save and rely on the government will fail
End identity politics
Move away from doing business and associating with China
Align with Mexico and Canada
Economic opportunities will arise
Innovate and adapt
Build a work ethic and stamina
Organize and minimize
Build community - get to know your neighbors
Slow down and read, think, write and gather thoughts
Make new and better allies around the world
Dump loser countries and stop funding them
Start to value American culture
Value the 2nd amendment & Free speech
Value strong borders and the rule of law
Start learning from our mistakes and move forward
Check-in with God
Here are 2 passages that I think you'll like. If you haven't been to church for a while, that's ok. I'd like to share with you a great message from River Valley Church. Let me know what you think. Pastor Rob will explain these 2 passages further detail.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
The Armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.