Lessons From The Lock-Down!
By Stephen Doherty
April 5th, 2020
“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.” –Doe Zantamata
History contains one great paradox. From life’s greatest tragedies often comes equally brilliant revelations and enlightenment. It’s fate’s method of compensating us for the overwhelming costs of these rare but devastating catastrophes. In one respect, it merely accelerates needed societal and cultural evolution. In another, it provides a measure of inoculation for a repeat of the disaster. Be it the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, 9-11, the Great Recession, or a handful of other historical life-altering calamities-what emerges from the ashes is normally a better version of those who experienced the devastation of the fire.
For the first time ever–America is locked down and quarantined in their homes courtesy of a global pandemic being driven by a new and deadly Coronavirus originating in China. The contagious nature of this virus and the fact that we currently have no vaccination or cure for it makes it the metaphorical equivalent of standing next to a stack of dry hay with a match. Severe illness for many is already a given. We are attempting to keep the match from being thrown into the pile of hay and generating a Biblical death toll reminiscent of smallpox, bubonic plague, or the Spanish Flu.
History will be the better judge of how this happened, who was responsible, and how the global citizenry responded. Eternity exists for finger-pointing and second-guessing. In keeping with the theme of my blogs to leave my children something thoughtful and informative from the times we shared together, I have gleaned five lessons and societal and cultural changes that are emanating from this national “Lock-Down” that I thought noteworthy. I’m sure there are others, dependent on many unique and varied circumstances–but these are my five for the Doherty family album.
- Three to Six Months of Income Saved
This common-sense necessity is the first bit of advice that any financial advisor will give any of us. Deferred gratification. Temporary second job. Sacrificial budgeting. It doesn’t MATTER how you do it. It only matters that you do it. Because absent the ability to pay rent and buy food during a temporary crisis–fate and circumstances will inflict upon you severe consequences, not selective alternatives and choices.
- Working-Educating From Home
I believe this quarantine will forever reshape the workforce in ways once scrutinized and doubted for a variety of questionable assumptions. We’re going to come out of this with thousands of companies and business executives and owners going, “You know what? My team did GREAT from home and in the process, I think we can retool and reshape the entire productivity curve around a work-from-home business model!” I think what emerges will dramatically impact everything from traffic jams to office space needs to even “workplace” attire. Additionally, college aspirants may find that they can get a meaningful college education online–at a fraction of the current cost.
- How We Shop
Hard to believe that in the age of the internet, we still only buy 9% of our retail on-line. Quarantine has transformed the convenience of online shopping into a habit of necessity. How much we buy on-line going forward will accelerate dramatically as we’ve now experienced the time we can recover and use for more important endeavors than driving to and from the mall and grocery store.
- Social Greetings and Introductions
The history of the handshake dates back to the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. Going forward post-quarantine, I think the fist and elbow bump will be the cautionary symbol of expressing, “Let’s both stay safe and avoid life-threatening illness.” The handshake may soon join butt-slapping and other antiquated methods of non-verbal communications on history’s growing list of things socially frowned upon.
- Better Hygiene Equals Lower Risk of (Fill-in-the-Blank)
Let’s face it. The fear of an invisible killer has transformed us forever in the arena of cleanliness and hygiene. The length of this lock-down will have cemented into habits much of what we used to ascribe to individuals with OCD. We will forever move forward armed with Clorox wipes, gallons of disinfectant hand soap, and wiping or scratching our faces with only a sanitary cloth or kleenex. All in all–not only not a “bad thing” but probably one ALL of us were long overdue in adopting.
I’ll close with a simple quote from a movie I watched with my daughter last night called “I Still Believe.” In it, a father tries to comfort his bereaved son after a horrible personal loss. He said, “Son, I don’t have the answers to your questions, but I know one thing with certainty. My life has been full and wonderful-not in spite of my many disappointments…but because of them.”
“All things are difficult…before they are easy. –Thomas Fuller