Thriving in the Time of Post-Covid 19
Dr Rekha Shetty
What the caterpillar calls death, the Master calls a butterfly. What the seed experiences as annihilation, the Master calls a mighty banyan tree, bringing forth a million seeds and trees, into the future.
Does the raindrop know that it has the potential to become a rainbow! Do you know what your true potential is? This is the time and place to find out who your actualized Self can be? Abraham Maslow described self actualisation as the process of becoming the person God created you to be.
In the din and clamour of your old life, did you ever have time to become intimate with yourself, let alone with others? This intimacy and silence will help you to be that ideal you God created you to be. Self-knowledge in the first and most important gift of the lockdown. Thoreau needed to go away to Walden Pond and live there for months on this inward journey. You can just be still and listen to your inner self, which you have ignored for so long. The greatest journey is the path your take through the empire of your own mind.
So, the body was given to you, a boat to sail across the sea of life. It’s the only body you will ever have. Start taking care of it to make it completely ship shape. Begin the day by becoming reacquainted with every muscle, with every breath. Fill your mind with elevated thoughts. With kindness and love.
Now let’s move on to business. You need to re-engineer your business to suit the new reality. Many futurists have seen the far reaching changes that the virtual and digital world will bring. Alvin Toffler in ‘Future Shock’ and ‘Third Wave,’ in the 70s spoke about the Electronic cottage. The lock downs have no more than hastened the new far reaching changes that were put into motion by the worldwide web. The spread of the Corona Virus has accelerated the process. What Linda Goodman calls the thunderbolt path of Accelerated Karma. The spread of the virus itself is a manifestation of the speed of globalization. What touches a single person, touches the global stock markets. When New York, sneezes the world markets catch a cold. When a butterfly flutters its turquoise wings in the rain forests of the Amazon, there is a hurricane in Osaka. Thoughts travel faster than the imagination can conceive. Revolutions sparked on Facebook can spread like the virus itself. In the past, they have overturned dictators in the blink of an eye. Today they can work even faster. So why can’t we use this time and space to spread elevating ideas about service about self. About love and caring. Something this sad world needs.
Coming back to the electronic cottage, in the 70s, Future Shock and The Third Wave foresaw the return of industry to homes. The industrial revolution dragged people, unwilling victims from their homes, to be sacrificed on the altar of technology. Today, the process to reverse this trend has started. People have started working from homes. The virus has hastened this shift by decades. Many companies are finding that turning a room in their homes into a digital hub is more effective than commuting to a distant work place. In large cities, people spend an average of 1 ½ hours, from dwellings 22.5kms away, to reach their place of work. Once the cost of communications is far less expensive than gas, the financial mathematics will make telecommuting more profitable. Patients using telemedicine will wonder why they ever exposed themselves to all that mass infection in hospitals.
If there are offices in the future, they are likely to be smaller hubs in communities. Zoom has given us a new way of being together. Outsourcing taught DELL that computers can be produced by people in the low-cost countries. All they needed to do was assemble and brand them… they often outsourced even that. Uber and Ola stepped into the business of taxis and made them almost obsolete. Coffee Day almost replaced other brands of coffee. But what a price they paid! My dad used to tell me the story of Subbanna Shetty whose horse drawn victorias were replaced by automobiles in the roaring 20s. This process of change through changing technologies has always been happening. Let’s ride the tidal wave. In the world of the Internet, what matters is the brilliance of the mind. Neither age or gender or race or height matter.
The business world has reacted swiftly. Ford factories are making ventilators. Apparel factories in Sri Lanka are swiftly moving to manufacturing PPEs. Cyprus has lured tourists by making it super safe and promising to pay for food, hotel stay, and hospitalization, if anyone got the disease. Women are spending more on eye make-up, with the use of masks. We have all heard how the sale of cosmetics goes up during an economic down turn. It was called the lipstick Index. Now we have the Eyeliner Index.
Right now it has played hell on social relationships. It’s made everything high tech and low touch. We are treating everyone as though they could be infected. Like some countries treated every one like a terrorist after 9/11. But life goes on. Suspicion will be replaced by faith.
A pizza parlour started using ovens to bake face shields. A fine dining restaurant kept everyone on its pay roll. But they had new jobs. They retrained to pack, deliver and administer the new process. Five star hotels deliver 5 star meals with a butler at home. Same payroll, new jobs. You will need to re-engineer your company. Reinvent yourself. Digital education has made 100% literacy a real possibility. Teachers have had to learn new skills like the kids and the parents!
Farmers are bringing their fruits and vegetables direct to the market and cutting out the middlemen. A fitness company, total body fitness.com, is digitally helping people to recreate their bodies. Indian healthcare systems are getting an opportunity to improve their systems on the run. Government servants are giving the Pandemic a run for its money, and recreating themselves in the process. Companies are being forced to innovate and coming up with great improvements. Covid-19 is an opportunity, says Simon Sinek. Mankind has faced tough situations before. The Bubonic plague killed one-third of Europe’s population. Starting from the 13th Century, when it started among the nomadic warriors of Central Asia going on to 1820. The Spanish Flu from 1918 to 1920 had a similar impact.
Sure, disasters only make mankind stronger and our systems better. They will never be the same. They will be better. Sports have recovered and most sports are being played for TV cameras, to empty stadiums. Lovers are meeting in restaurants protected by transparent cones. During the Spanish flu, women wore such cones over their faces, so faces instead of being hidden, were highlighted. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change,” says Charles Darwin. So let us adapt.
The environment is finally getting a chance to heal itself. They say you can see the Himalayas from Delhi. The Ganga is finally becoming pure. The earth is becoming green. Just think, trees have been on earth a 100 million years. Man has crawled out of the jungles just 5 million years ago. Look at the arrogance that tells him that his needs come before the needs of all other creatures. Covid-19 allows us to stop that journey outward and come back to the most important journey. The journey inwards. Into ourselves, our homes, our families, and our communities. Nothing but good can came from this.