COVID-19 Limbo

Published on April 7, 2020

We’ve been in the heat of the battle for the past few weeks. Our businesses (and the world for that matter) have been turned upside down. When Michigan’s governor closed schools for three weeks and then followed with a Stay at Home Executive Order a week later, the reality really set in. This was now “Business as Unusual”.

Immediately, leaders went into a reactive mode and scrambled to learn how the pandemic and the governor’s orders affected them. For those fortunate enough to still have a modicum of business, we now had to view and manage it through the essential business/worker or social distancing filters. We collaborated with other business partners, trade organizations, public institutions and a myriad of consultants to set up our go-forward plans.

We find ourselves stabilized in our operating model…for now. Zoom has become as important as an office copier. We think highly of how quickly we learned to navigate the challenges of a distributed workforce and have all grown familiar with the Virtual Happy Hour phenomena. Fear and uncertainly still loom but at different levels. We are now in what could be described as “Medium Term Limbo”.

We know we have to do things differently for a while but don’t know exactly what “a while” is. Will the Stay at Home orders continue to be extended? Can we definitively reschedule that March event for June or will we still be social distancing with a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people? We struggle to wholly understand how the pandemic is impacting our customers and partners and, selfishly, how that will impact our own businesses. How long can we keep underutilized resources on the payroll? Could some Econ Professor at one of those Ivy League schools just tell us when the DOW will be back above 29,000?!

Limbo, defined as “an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution” is a tough place to exist. There are many sleepless nights and what-if scenario’s playing out. These 3 simple things are helping me make it through:

1.      “think, THINK, think” – These three words were on an old sign in a meeting room where I’ve spent a lot of time. The words are the same but two were in lower case and the middle one in all caps. The lesson behind it is to not over think what happened in the past as we can’t change it. Don’t think too much about what might happen in the future since a lot of what you fear may not come true. Finally, the capitalized THINK in the middle is about focusing and staying in the present moment and doing the best you can that day.

2.      “A problem shared is a problem cut in half” – sometimes we carry much more burden then we have to. Surround yourself with “trusted advisors and mentors” who you can share your problems or fears with. They very often have prior experience or a calm voice of reason that is needed during that moment for you to keep some level of serenity.

3.      History can reassure us – This is not the first pandemic the world has suffered. The economy has suffered before. The good news is we ALWAYS recover from it. Be patient and do your small part in the rebalancing process. Ultimately, “This too shall pass!”

Stay healthy and stay connected!

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