10 lessons to learn from COVID-19

My perspective on the things we all must learn from the main crisis of 2020

Now, I assume you are right now in the same situation stuck at home, going slightly mad from running out of options for self-entertainment on the weekends and ruminating about how might involuntary confinement feel like.

Lesson #1. We were not prepared.

The virus pushed all companies to work remotely and it took only one day to expose a bitter truth— we were completely unprepared.

Evolve or die.

Lesson #2. The world is small.

What happens in one corner of the world affects the whole world.

It is arrogant and ignorant to think that the suffering that occurs in one part of the world has nothing to do with you while you are playing in your safe zone, and the recent outbreak of COVID-19 is the strongest argument for this.

Lesson #3. The West must meet the East.

Do you know why Asia was so effective in tackling the COVID-19? One of the answers is simple: Culture. I am taking South Korea as an example just because I had the pleasure of living inside this culture for the past 6 years and learned it firsthand.

  • Koreans have a culture of wearing masks and using sanitizers. The culture of wearing masks was created not from the notion that masks look fancy (although many have convinced themselves in that). In South Korea, wearing a mask is simply a necessity. The so-called “yellow dust” that comes from China aggravated by Korea’s own emissions oftentimes makes breathing outside not just intolerable but truly hazardous. The culture of self-care and using masks significantly facilitated flattening the COVID curve.
  • Koreans follow the rules. “If the government says so, we must abide” — that is a general mindset in South Korea. And that is OK. In the countries where the government is somewhat functional, the citizens don’t have a problem with actually listening and taking to heart what it says. The Eastern mentality of prioritizing the collective good wins against the Western mentality that prioritizes the individual, when it comes to recovery of the nation.

Lesson #4. Prejudice is an enemy.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. There has been a lot of blame circulating both online and offline.

How does it help us?

“They are bad, and we are good! They jeopard our lives, and we are so pure and bacteria-free!”

Lesson #5. We are powerful when we stand together.

When one wants to be protected from the flu he can have himself inoculated with a vaccine. But while there is not enough vaccine for everyone, what action can we all take as people against a pandemic?

We can all become a “social vaccine”.

It is true, we won’t be able to contain the outbreak of the virus by social distancing alone but we can flatten the curve of its propagation and buy some precious time for those who are fighting for our safety at the frontlines, and by doing this buy some time for ourselves.

We make a difference when we act as one.

Lesson #6. A human needs a human.

We only value that what we get deprived of.

The practice of social distancing is the strongest proof of that. We have not realized how much importance we give not just to human interaction but something as simple as a human touch — a handshake of a colleague, an encouraging tap on a shoulder of a teacher, a hug of a friend.

The best things happens to those who make the best of what happened to them.

Social distancing must not prevent us from social networking. We must continue working together online. But also, we must take our time. Soak in our solitude, process it, and come out on the other end more mindful about the roles of other people in our lives and more effective in our personal and business communication.

Lesson #7. Knowledge is power.

Self-education is the primary responsibility of every single individual. We must invest our time to dig deep into the problem in order to understand it. Because it is only when we understand it we can implement comprehensive control measures both on a personal and collective level, and shine some light on ignorance that feeds our bigotry and aggression.

Lesson #8. There will always be someone who capitalizes on the crisis.

No matter how big is the suffering of people, there will always be someone who will see people’s pain as an opportunity to make money.

Lesson #9. Clarity is everything

The Circle of Influence, the Circle of Concern —my favorite tool of Stoicism. When the chaos starts, divide all things between the two circles. Attain clarity on the things that you can control and the things you can’t.

  • Economics
  • Capital market
  • Weather
  • Media
  • Other people
  • Your plan
  • Your value
  • Your attention
  • Your reaction
  • Your surrounding

Energy flows where attention goes.

Deprive the things that you can’t control of the energy of your attention.

Lesson #10. There is still much room for improvement.

When the time comes to tell the future generations about how progressive and developed we were back in 2020, what are the stories that we will be telling our grandchildren? I think this is something we all should meditate about.

Conclusions.

There is much to learn from our experience. We need to think both as individuals and as people, why what happened happened, process the damage, and move on wiser and more “upgraded”.

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