We are living through an event that nobody alive has dealt with before.
When I look for guidance from other people, I don’t ask them for advice, I ask them for shared experiences. How did they handle a similar set of circumstances, how did they feel, what was the outcome? Shared experience is powerful, because it’s not tailored advice, it’s a lesson I can learn from and then apply part of that lesson to my own problem or question.
There is no shared experience when it comes to a global pandemic. Nobody in the last 100 years has lived through a worldwide synchronized shock like this one. It’s different from a World War because even during World War One and World War Two economies functioned, global trade continued, and people weren’t locked up at home in every country. When an earthquake or hurricane occurs, we can solve the problem with a surge – a surge in relief workers, doctors, engineers, and money is the fix. This virus is the opposite; the more people that arrive to help, the higher the infection rate. It’s a deadly trap that uses sick people as bait to lure in the healthy. So what’s the playbook?
When seeking out guidance, remember the following:
- Wealth doesn’t equate to intelligence and street smarts. In the last decade of easy money, there are a lot of people who think they are smart. Most of the time, they are confident and wrong. Unfortunately, we flock to overconfident talkers because we conflate overconfidence with competence. Identify these talkers and mute them. They have no shared experience and will lose their money and overconfidence as fast as they made it.
- Being an expert in one field doesn’t make you an expert in all areas. I don’t want a brain surgeon fixing my toilet, and I don’t want a plumber fixing my brain. That said, listen to smart people gifted in pattern recognition. When Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates has something to say, then I shut up and listen.
- Check-in now and then on the crazy folks. The crazies aren’t muzzled and sometimes speak truth to power. There are some diamonds in their stream of consciousness.
- Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.
- Think for yourself! Put on your oxygen mask before helping others, which is an essential air safety trip and a useful metaphor for everyday life. If you are taking care of yourself, spiritually, mentally, and physically, then you will be much better placed to listen and assist others.
- Be okay changing your mind when new information crops up. Smart people change their minds all the time.
- Keep it local. Be a good citizen and neighbor, listen to community advice and local officials.
- It’s okay to say you don’t know.