In these difficult times, this story about the 20 Mile March is my reminder of what to focus on… and how to stay in control of my life.
I first heard this story from Jim Collins. He shares it in his book Good to Great. Here, I share my version of the story… and how it relates to leading yourself and your organisation in difficult times.
Your 20 Miles?
What are your 20 mile march habits? What are your aspirational self 20 mile march habits? What can you do in this period of quarantine to practice your 20 mile march?
This is my morning routine… with my 4 year old doing her version at my side. It is just 15 minutes… but hits the whole body and gets you breathing fast …
Day 1 was really tough… my arms really sore the evening and next day… my back was stiff… from the change of exercise (I usually am 90% running and a little bit of all body weights, and some arm specific weights).
I challenge you…
Let’s do this routine each day for the next few weeks of quarantine… I will certainly finish quarantine with stronger arms and torso than before… and will balance my fitness in future with a bit less running, and some more of these HIIT routines at home.
What are you doing to stay fit during Quaratine?
What youtube exercise videos would you recommend (for stretching, for all body physical workout, for evening relax after a few hours of zoom calls?). Who is good to follow on youtube? I like Joe above… any others? and any routines that are fun with family?
These are my notes from the words of an Indian spiritual leader called Sadhguru, which I found positive, generous and calming. I had never heard of this man a few days ago… but have found his voice and his words a source of inspiration and clarity over the last 6 days.
When the situation is serious, you do not need to become serious. We do not choose to become frivolous, but we choose to be responsible.
When you become dead serious, you are dead before you are dead. When you lose your laugh, you lose everything. If you stop laughing you will make no difference to the progress of the virus. If you act serious, you will not stop a single infection.
Are you a Human Being or a Human Creature?
It is in these times that what kind of a human being you are matters. It matters all the time, but in normal times all sorts of fake people can pretend. It is when crisis hits that what type of human being you are really matters.
This virus is not being carried by mosquitos or rats. It is being carried by us.
Are we human beings or are we human creatures? If we are human beings we choose to take responsibility to not pass this virus on to the next person.
Human Beings are the Agents of this Virus
We are the vector of this virus. We are the agents who carry.
Many of us may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. We may think “what difference do I make?”
We could not notice it, but we could be giving it to someone who is at risk.
What type of human are you? Are you fit to be a being? A human being. The most fundamental thing is that you know how to be. You know how to choose. You know how to act intentionally.
Today, by not doing anything… you have done something great for the world.
Do Something Great: Stay Home and Do Nothing
Meditation gurus have spent thousands of years telling us to sit down, sit still and do nothing. A little virus is teaching us faster than all those hundreds and thousands of meditation gurus.
Social distancing is not building walls around us, around those close to us. It is being aware and careful of the manner of transmission of this virus.
What steps can we take to ensure the safety of our community?
Keep our distance – don’t be an agent of transmission for the virus, stay home, wash hands, don’t shake hands
Strengthen our physical system – eat well, sleep enough, take physical exercise
…like today with COVID-19/Coronavirus affecting all aspects of our daily lives across the world.
When there is a huge range of possible impacts in the short, medium or long term, how can leaders prepare and respond?
Today, it is impossible to predict the impact of COVID-19/Coronavirus on our societies, our people, our future cash flows. Leaders cannot abdicate responsibility and say that they cannot decide because there are too many unknowns.
In the current context, business leaders need to lead with a number of specific actions:
Communicate daily what you are seeing, what you are expecting, who is involved, what it means…
Scenario Planning –
Best Case – What is the best case we might possibly expect and how will we respond if the situation pans out in this way?
Worst Case – What is the truly worst case we might face? What actions can we take today that can prepare us for dealing with this? What cash reserves will we need? What will we do with suppliers, customers, banks, employees in this worst case? Are there any actions that can reduce the impact? Can we survive this worst case? (“You can only learn from the crisis that you survive” Jim Collins)
Other Cases between best and worst – What will happen under these scenarios? How can we prepare plans and our people to perform under these conditions?
It may be helpful to have separate people/teams working on response plans for each of the scenarios.
IESE Business School is working on 4 possible Scenarios and teams are putting in place the technology, the training, the support systems in order to allow for any of these 4 scenarios to be supported. As of yesterday, IESE has moved to scenario 3… All classes delivered online for at least the next 2 weeks. All travel stopped. All marketing activities with on campus visits stopped.
IESE is maintaining the capacity to go back to on-campus teaching, and is maintaining regular communications to employees, to faculty and to students via email, a blog and internal messaging tools.
I heard a tough question this morning (on a podcast).
“Who is the least reliable person you know?”
A powerful reflection… stop and have a think. Is it a friend? Is it a brother? Is it a parent? Is it you… to yourself?
We live in a time of great uncertainty… coronavirus… globalization… robots taking our jobs… a way to bring some certainty to your life and the life of the people you care about… is to be deliberate in keeping your promises.
What impact does it have when someone is not reliable? What impact does it have in your own life when you don’t keep the promises that you make to yourself? Today? In a decade?
Thanks to Tony for pushing me to reflect deeply on the nature of friendship… and to the podcast this morning for a reminder:
We are seeing growth in COVID-19/Coronavirus infections around the world. Some facts about the disease.
Unlike the flu, very young people do not seem to be at any increased risk from COVID-19.
Risk appears to ramp up for people over age 50. Mortality rates are 0.6% to 1.5% in general population, 80-85% of cases are mild (which is the big problem because you are infectious, but able to go out in the world).
The big risk is rapid spread and the collapse of hospital facilities in local regions. All efforts are directed towards slowing the spread of infection so that we don’t see a huge number of critical cases all needing hospital beds at the same time. This is what happened in Wuhan and led to the higher fatality rates in that region.
How it affects me?
As a business leader in Spain I find myself struggling to take reasoned decisions around the COVID19/Coronavirus outbreak that is spreading through the world. Over the weekend all of North Italy (16M people) went into quarantine. Last night Madrid closed all schools.
I have a training event coming up late March for our leadership team. A Vistage Chair will be travelling over from the US to run the 3 day event. Should we go ahead with the event? Should we cancel? How can I approach this decision and find a balance between emotion and reason, short term safety and long term impacts.
I find it very hard to get myself emotionally centered and make a reasoned decision. If I read the news for 20 minutes, I feel like the whole world is coming to an end… markets crashing… supply chains in grave danger…
Then I look into the illness… how serious is it? Clearly nobody wants an illness of any type… but we are lucky that this wake-up call to the global health system is not highly lethal. This crisis will prepare us and potentially mitigate or reduce the impact of a future more lethal strain that spreads widely.
How should a Small Business CEO respond?
First, leaders need to communicate regularly… I would suggest a daily update about what company policy is and what scenarios we are looking at, also what we don’t know. Even if that communication is “we have nothing new to communicate today, but we are paying close attention to what is happening” it is an important signal of leadership.
Establish and communicate Company policy – every company needs to establish a company policy that at its very least recommends the following:
If you are sick, or have flu-like symptoms – do not come to work. Stay home and contact your local medical services.
Wash hands regularly. Don’t touch your face. This disease (and many others) is passed from hands to mouth and nose.
Wipe down work areas regularly. Shared desks, computers, personal mobile devices can gather and share the virus.
Reduce physical contact as much as necessary at this time. Handshakes and kisses are out, fist pumps or elbow nudges are the replacement gesture.
Encourage video conference over travel and face to face meetings. Many companies have temporarily banned any meeting of 20 or more people.
Put plans in place now for remote work – think through now how the business could operate in a full quarantine.
Liquidity – can you establish lines of credit, sources of financing that can get you through the next few weeks and months. As Jim Collins says “we can only learn from a crisis if we survive the crisis”.
School closures? – How can employees respond if their schools close and they are at home? What is your policy? Case by case basis?
Personal and Family
Get your own house and family in order.
Plan for looking after kids at home if schools shut down Can you remote work or create flexibility to do your work from home?
Plan for the (unlikely) event you and your family can not leave your home for 2 weeks quarantine. Get in food and drinks for a 2 week stay at home.
Make sure your family has 2-3 months of medicine. If a loved one is taking a medicine or drug regularly, you may want to ensure a few months extra supply.
3 Important Reasons For Optimism
1. The disease is mild in most people who get it. At least 80%, most likely more, will only have flu-like symptoms.
2. Children seem particularly protected from severe coronavirus disease. Many of the sniffles and colds kids experience are due to existing milder coronavirus strains, possibly giving them partial immunity to this more serious new threat.
3. There has been extraordinary global cooperation from doctors and health officials. This is a level of globalisation that I am proud to see our leaders and doctors capable of.
I will continue to update this post as we learn more about effective response to COVID-19/Coronavirus.
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