Overcoming the Fear Factor: Above and Beyond

Author: Sahadeo Chaudhary, GPHR
Date: Nov 19, 2020

Facing the Placid!!! Upset the established order and everything goes into chaos, this is what COVID-19 invoked and the world went panicky, not knowing what next. This experience would go down in the history as the disaster which included a response, foresight, and judgment on a large scale. Unlike in a war where we know the direction as to what we need to do next in order to subdue the enemy, here how do we subdue an invisible enemy which is so contagious and micro that no tracing mechanism still has a cent percent answer as to how it moves!  As we see the resilience building, we came across a lot of human perspectives, elements of gut, fear, anxiety, self-imposed resistance, and loss of hope. These could safely be termed as the most testing times in the history of mankind.

When we look at the variables which have caused such panic, the first answer comes to our mind is COVID-19, but have we ever thought that our response to the situation also led to equal turbulence. There are variables that go above and beyond human lives and which impacts well-being. It is imperative to understand that COVID-19 is not the only variable that can lead to a demise. There are variables that facilitate life and subsequently demise too. The panic is mainly due to the fact that the established order has been rattled, which people have been used to and accustomed to, which we ideally refer to as the laid down processes and protocols which are established to deal with such ambiguity. This fact has had an adverse effect on how we dealt with a situation, whether possibly right or somewhat right or chaotic. Many leaders carried a perspective which was inspiring, undermining, and resilient, however, the magnanimity of the situation overcame that perspective and eventually the response started to get disoriented and in many cases self-inflicting, ill-fated and resulting in subduing the possible objective and ultimately culminated into a dominos effect emerging out of lockdowns and restrictions. I believe every situation needs to have a rationale and also what has the history been while dealing with such situations as precarious as we have experienced. I believe the reason for this predicament is communications and non-clarity of the way forward, non-precise orientation, and lack of horizon.
As we revisit some of the key highlights, I would like to break it down into various perspectives and would put forth the perspective which can be thought-provoking as to what responses were ideal ones or what we could have done to better it. There’s one element which supports the theory that people panic less even if the plan is known (I mean when there no surprises), when there is no plan and when confronted with a surprise or unknown aberration, things start to  falter and the panic is aggravating.  
My sense is that the lockdown had been quite early in some countries and would have been handled in a way where economic activities would have stalled in a gradual way and in a phased manner. Also, the learnings of the first few weeks needed an acknowledgment and deep dive to determine a way forward. I believe the defence to lockdowns, can be plenty but scientific and statistical rationale is what would sum up to a recommendation and with keeping in mind the dynamic impact it’s causing. Additionally, when the medical fraternity looks at this epidemic, the answers ought to be closed-ended rather an open-ended unlike in a usual scenario. The psychological impact has been so intense, that people have been dismayed, disoriented, and pondered upon the rationale of subsistence, now these are variables that can’t be ignored. The answers to this would be an open-ended discussion and thinking about the tenet around the actions which are being carried. The greatest impact anyone has experienced has been on the psychological front and which transpires from getting in a never before situation to anxiety pertaining to pure survival! The impact on livelihood has been quadrupled by the policies which appeared unidirectional and lacked the farsightedness resulting in higher impact as compared to the core reason for which the policies had been intended and released. Herein it’s imperative to understand that therein exists multiple variables which may and shall have a compelling impact on the lives of people and one needs to have a holistic view. As the norm and that the resultant plan proclaims that the only way to survive is to stay indoors and at bay, but the bigger question is what would make us immune? The answer is quite simple, when one variable is out of control, change gears and go for another variable which is far more achievable and evident and it’s for oneself, authorities, and public administration to determine which variable is better poised to enable sustainability. Recently, whilst I was talking to one of the media professionals, he shared a perspective that companies are endangering people’s lives, that there was this incident wherein a small entity/organization had unlocked operations and all employees had started attending the office and eventually many contracted Covid 19, the perspective was that the owner, due to his urge to start operations had kind of compromised the safety of the employees. I believe the perspective can be valid for employer and employee as well, however, what is the mid-way and how and what should be the next step for businesses across to start operations and sustain. We all should ponder upon a tipping point and determine to what extent we can shut the economic operations and still envision subsistence. The strategy to be adopted in these scenarios is to be assertively confident for the alternatives. The possibilities are dim in countries, where there are no social security benefits and no, doles being meted out. If one goes by the prevailing data and insights, globally and as acclaimed by experts, any lockdown beyond 61 days is futile and doesn’t serve the purpose. There’s a rider to it though and that what’s the optimum time to engaging in a lockdown, whether it’s anticipated to have a peak or surge in cases or when it’s just started, Some countries were too agile to impose it in a very nascent stage and some had a planned lockdown. In this above context, it’s imperative for a business to start their operations as there doesn’t seem to be a financial remedy insight and given the dynamics, if not now what’s the alternative one can think of.
Often, I come across perspectives wherein people are absolutely scared to even venturing out even for essentials. It’s imperative to deliberate as to what’s the alternative, shall we move to complete hibernation alike a polar bear wherein no movement and complete dormancy. The key aspect is one should trigger a perspective wherein possibilities need to be explored and risk taken and determined, if this is not a doable thing then what’s the other way out and wherein there’s no complete halt on activities.  What looks to be is a long uphill task of recovery in every facet of human lives, be personal, professional, and social. The aspect of economic recovery should be at the forefront as it will be a function of better lives and livelihood for the society at large. The key shall be to envision and create a sense of optimism that is not only resilient and but being assertive. An assertion is to be back to work, business, and services. Endurance in fighting the virus remains the key but it’s also important to recognize and acknowledge what is in our control and what’s not and even to endure a fight, one should have a steady supply of reinforcements to fight it out.
Wars are not won in isolation. Economic activity resurgence is the energy that can make us strive and enable a long battle ahead. When it's evidently clear that one can’t stop the spread of the virus come what may, one should change gears and move in the right direction. The medical fraternity has been fabulous in their efforts and kindness to serve the people, but alike in a usual scenario wherein we focus on our health we also focus on variables that impact other aspects of that health. Overall, the impact shall be more due to factors excluding COVID-19 as many variables have been rattled and norms dislodged. The key food for thought is whether the response was appropriate and whether there could have been a better way to respond and does only data predict things with reliability. Often, we hear briefings from epidemiologists that the virus shall determine how we unlock or deal with the future. Now it’s akin to leaving on god and saying we can’t do anything!!!  I believe the response for a few Scandinavian countries and the UK has been phenomenal wherein they acknowledged the data, however, based on their past experiences didn’t heed to predictive indexes and forecasts, one such country was Sweden which based on experience never administered a lockdown and the results speak for themself. In this scenario, it wouldn’t be an understatement that there can be a reboot of the whole job market with huge scale displacements and mobilization as seen. I believe certain industries may have to revisit their strategies and business models and ways to navigate through this economic rundown.
As evident, people may face a gradual fall in immunity by reduction of metabolism and by low activity levels, rather people can with caution and protocols venture out, get back to what one does best, and not let the virus dominates you!!!   So, stay safe, be positive, and above all stay Confident!!!
About the author: Sahadeo Chaudhary is a Global Professional in Human Resources, Traveller, Blog writer and a Thought Leader. He is an HRCI certified professional with 15 years in the HR domain, a subject matter expert on Global Mobility, HR Processes and Culture Building. He is currently based in Mumbai and has resided in Canada and the USA].
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