What COVID 19 Teaches us about People

A few days ago, I read an article on Linkedin. It showcased 3 types of CEO facing the Coronavirus crisis. 

1. The “we are doomed” CEO. This is the type of CEO caught with his trousers down his ankles. (S)he watches Fox News, get their facts from Facebook ads. You get the picture… 

2. The “is something happening” type of CEO. That one is in denial. (s)he still thinks that Coronavirus is a standard flu, or even worse, that Chloroquine can cure Coronavirus. 

3. There is the cool-headed CEO. (S)he knows what is going on. They do not try to guess what will happen in the future. They are learning from what happened in China and paying close attention to how things evolve. Not because they are concerned, but because they are looking for opportunities. They know that the world is adapting to the new reality and that with it, there will be new opportunities. They are sharp, focus, and 10x more likely to come out of this situation stronger. And of course they practice social distancing and wash their hands.

My point? Why are people behaving like Homer Simpson? Well, this is not a question. People do stupid things all the time. We know about that. What surprises me the most is what makes people stop doing crazy things. 

I am guilty as well. Take the COVID 19 situation. When it first came up in China, my friends and I were barely concerned about it—thinking of it either as something very distant, something that would only kill older people and a virus similar to the common flu. In hindsight, this was crazy already, because if China shuts down a region where millions of people live, and build hospitals in 10 days, $hit is real. Anyway, fast forward. Coronavirus hits Italy. Most people I know, don’t take it seriously. At that point my gut told me to stack up on some food. I did not go full survival mode, but I bought enough canned food to last my family and me 2 weeks. Just in case, you know. And if all is good, this is still food I can eat. So no harm. Yet, my wife and mother-in-law were making fun of me. The moment COVID 19 started to sink in people’s mind was when governments went on lockdown. From a day to the other, people started to freak out and run to the supermarket. Why wait that long. You could see the country nearby already on lockdown, those people already running to the supermarket. Did people think that this imaginary country border will contain the virus? But that was not enough to get all people to take it seriously. Even at the time, I am writing this post, March 26, there are still people we know who are smart (in general) not respecting social distancing. It hit home, unfortunately, when someone had a friend or relative catching the virus.

That is the part that is crazy to me. Nothing is new. We know how many people are dying from Coronavirus daily. We know how quickly it spreads. We never think it could impact us until someone we know is affected. There is surely a smart psychologic theory behind this. I don’t know it. But I know that I am learning 4 things about people through COVID19.

  1. Don’t follow the herd. Know who to pay attention to. Observe what they do, not what they say.
  2. Focus on what you can change. Easy to cry over spilled milk. But impossible to do something about it. Move on.
  3. Find the opportunity. There is always an opportunity, ALWAYS. Tip: look where others are not to find it.
  4. Plan for better days. Whatever you are going through, it will eventually end. Be ready for that moment!