Coronavirus, a.k.a COVID-19 has altered our ways of lives in so many ways. The world of hugs, handshake, and kisses has suddenly turned into a world of social distancing and quarantining. We went from the peak of campaign rallies just a few weeks ago, to one where political campaign is now through virtual means. Offices that was once full of daily interface and interactions are now empty. Churches where we come together to worship, and praises have turned from physical locations to online forums. Schools are on indefinite holidays. Our streets are deserted. The world is on a lockdown, and it seems there is no end in sight.

The global food supply chain is stretched with some of those in the forefront working round the clock to ensure that they support to make sure that there is continuous supply of food to people all over the world. In America alone, over 20 million people are now out of their job, even the CARES act is not sufficient to prevent employers from closing their shops. I saw on the TV the other day, a scene where people were on the queue to collect food, a sad reminder of the 1930 worldwide economic recession.

If care is not taken, it is easy to think that all is doom and gloom in the world today. Or how will that single mother explained to her two young daughters that she has no money on her to buy them food for dinner. How can a father explain to his children that he had to go to work at the grocery store knowing that he can potentially be exposed to the dreaded virus? How can a man who has recently lost his job be there to take care of his wife, and also be there for the children?  I know, the situation is tough. People are hurting, at this time, one way that I know that reassure people is to share the Persian adage “This too shall pass” with them.

I know it will pass because there is always light at the end of the tunnel. China has opened back Wuhan where the virus began, some European countries are also on the verge of opening up their countries. In the United States, the President has also constituted a committee that will come up with guidelines to ease the stay-at-home rules and open back the economy, and hopefully, begin the process to return the world back to normalcy.

If you live in a country that is just starting the lockdown process, or if you are still in the lockdown mode, I am going to share COVID-19 survival guide, which highlight 5 core lessons that I learned during this lockdown period. I am hopeful that you will learn a thing or two from this piece, and it will be a source of inspiration to you to appreciate your condition.

Here are the five core lessons and tips that will help you to survive in a locked down world.

1.       Care: Caring involve having the right coalition and community around you. It used to be a busy world, especially for working parents, juggling professional and personal commitments. The lock down is an opportunity to reflect and take care of those other important things in your life, and also use it to appreciate the people in your life. If you have people that care about you around you during the lock down, you may be able to find some fun. During the period. Caring involves spending time with your loved ones, you can play games, watch movies, and find something that you can do together as you all stay safe at home. Covid-19 is a battle that is being fought in many fronts, by forming coalition of people to fight together. That’s why organizations we must all be grateful for not only the people in the front line, such as grocery store workers, delivery drivers, policemen, and fire fighters, we must not forget to appreciate non-profit ones like Red cross, Food banks, and Churches. These organizations are actively providing support, and encouragement to help people get through this difficult time. The world is not locked down, but caring, empathy, love, kindness, family time, and relationships are not. To thrive, look to those things and find ways of enjoying and cherishing your time in the lock down.

2.       Optimism: Coronavirus is bent on destroying all sense of hopes in the future. You can fight back by equipping yourself by having relentless optimism in even a better future, post-covid. The first thing to know is that we will win the battle against this invisible enemy (to quote our President). The world is not going to end on this note. If you have lost your job, with some dose of optimism, you should expect to get a better job, post-covid. If you have contracted the disease, stay hopeful, stay optimistic, knowing that the majority of people survive the disease. If you feel lonely due to the isolation caused by the virus, you have to look forward to a new world with new hope after the lock down is lifted. Optimism is what will help you to deal with negativities that you see daily on the news, because for now, there is a high dose of negative news bombarding us daily. You will definitely hear about the number of people that have died of the disease, but you will hear little about even the higher number of people that are surviving the disease. I’m not minimizing the impact of the virus in any way, but I am not about to empower it further. If you get infected, you can, and you will survive it, but please follow all the social distancing guidelines. Prevention is always a million times better than cure. Your city is locked down, but don’t ever let your hope in future, faith in God, enthusiasm about life, or your imagination go on a lock down. 

3.       Value: What do you value in this life? The Coronavirus quarantine period helped me to appreciate the importance of having freedom to move around, whenever we want to. The stay at home time means I cannot go to the office, see my colleagues, and enjoy those lunch time tet-a-tet with the people I work with. It also took away the opportunity to shake, fist bump, or hug brethren in church. However, I used the time to really enjoy game time with my son. I still keep my work schedule, and in between work, I have to also make sure that the kids are “learning at home” based on the guidance of the school district. The after worktime has now become a time that I look forward to, because it provides the opportunity to bond with the kids. We have developed some routine, if we are not playing soccer in the backyard, we are either in the house watching movies, or playing some board games. The period also gave me the opportunity to step up and become not only a soccer coach to my kids, I also became an home school instructor, and games buddy. One thing that is clear is that material things that we all work hard to accumulate became almost immaterial with the lock down. Check this out, when was the last time, you wore your Rolex writ watch, or drive your Maserati car. Focusing on people, helping when you can, watching out for the interest of others, are some ways to thrive during the lockdown time. I got some renewed confidence in people when I hear about business owners taking pay cut so that they can keep their employees on payroll. I was impressed to read that leaders in some countries like New Zealand are taking pay cut as a way of showing solidarity to their fellow country people. I was perplexed to read about group of employees donating their vacation days to help out sick colleagues in the hospital. I was proud of CEOs such as Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, Dan Schulman of Paypal, and many more business executives that promised not to lay off their employees during this period. They are not only talking about the health and safety of their employees, as most business leaders do, they are showing their support, by giving the employees one less thing to worry about. I know that business exists to make profit, but we must always balance the drive to make money with equal attention to care for the people. Through Covid-19, I realized that accumulating material things will not get us anywhere, and it helped me to focus more on more important areas of lives. Many businesses are on lock down, but creativity, loyalty, conversation, learning, are always open for you to embrace and express. If you are still alive and breathing, your heart for sure is not on a lock down.

4.       Interconnection: If you are still opposed to the idea of globalization, Coronavius has thought us that we now live in an integrated, and inter-dependent world. What started in China, travels through Europe, and ended up in a Gaborone, Botswana. We know that news travels fast, one event may be happening in Middle east, and within minutes, the news is already being heard across the ocean. We know that economy slowdown in America can have domino effects in all around the world. We have come to enjoy the world and the benefits of global trade where goods manufactured in China are consumed in Africa. What we did not envisage was that a disease that originated in one part of the world, can quickly spread and cripple the entire world as we know it. And that is why the whole world is in this together. The United States has launched a $2T stimulus package to the people impacted by the disease. Singapore, Japan, China have all launched some form of stimulus package to help fight off the effects of the lock down. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), over half of the world’s countries have already asked for emergency funding.  This tells me we are in it together, the developed, developing, and under-developed countries are all dealing one way or the other with the effect of the virus. Even though the world is locked down, synergy, creativity, meditation, and praying can never be subdued.

5.       Discipline: Perhaps the most important lesson of all is discipline. No great feat can be achieved without discipline. It is no news that the virus broke out at a laboratory in Wuhan, China. As a continuous improvement expert, one of the aspects of my job that I always enjoy is lesson learned. I love carrying out this task, because I believe that is the best way to learn and get better. I believe post-covid, the world as a whole will learn somethings from this incident. What went wrong at the lab? Was it as a result of process failure or human error? Lesson learned is not about scapegoating, but about making sure that such incidents never repeat again. What could we have done better in the United States to prevent the devastation that people are now going through? People that must survive this confinement period must also be disciplined, and be willing to adhere to experts recommendations by practicing social distancing. The virus revealed that the simple task of washing hands is not always practiced by most people. We need discipline at this time much more, because lack of it is what causes panic buying, going to the store to buy what you won’t need in the next two months, and price gouging, inflating the price of your goods and adding more pain to already stressed world. If you currently work from home, discipline also means making sure you do you work and be responsible with your time. The world is locked down, but discipline, wisdom, and common sense are not.

None of us can really predict the exact date when the virus will finally be defeated, but I believe that this too shall pass, and we will all come out stronger. Stay In. Stay Safe. Stay Curious

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