7 Tips For Dealing With The Coronavirus And Future Black Swans

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there on this pandemic. Much of it is designed, in my view, to throw people into a panic.

In our practice, we have a playshop called “Reality Group Coaching” which was inspired by Robert Greene, from his book, The Laws of Human Nature. In this book, he describes how a crucial part of human nature is our ability to delude ourselves into surrounding ourselves with a vision of reality which is simply untrue.

We do this for many reasons – it may be that looking at reality with a clear, focused eye will hurt us mentally. We may wish to hide some unpleasant facts about ourselves and our lives. We possibly have not come to terms with something which will happen or is about to happen, which we affect us.

We live in these virtual versions of reality, our bubbles of information, away from the truth.

Social media and the current news media feed our retreat into these bubbles of “virtual reality.” Not in the VR sense, but in the sense that we are all are living in a world-view formed by our preferences and expectations. In most cases, these expectations do not align with reality.

In the creation of a Reality Group, we take an individual or a team and remove them from this virtual world and have them understand reality. We remove all of the bubbles and filters that they and the world have applied to them, and once this is done; they can work towards a common goal without the false hopes and dreams and facades they need to have in a world where people live in their own reality.

This lack of connection to reality has been flourishing for a while. Coronavirus has brought much of this unreality to the forefront. People are no longer understanding reality – buffeted by messages from all sides, many of which are not necessarily true.

This disconnection with reality is not unique to the Coronavirus but happens whenever we experience the unknown. We create a new reality for ourselves to deal with a reality we don’t understand. This reaction is true of most disruptive innovation and market changes as well.

To that end, here are some ways we can ground ourselves back in reality, during this and any other crisis, and help to find some peace in the madness:

  1. DON’T PANIC: The cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is 100% accurate. No matter what you read or hear, do not allow it to drive you to panic. Panic is completely unproductive.
  2. QUESTION MESSAGES: Especially news headlines. Headlines are designed to grab your attention, and may not lead to reality.
  3. CONTEXT IS KING: Ignore or research statistics without context. Saying that there are 500 cases with Coronavirus in a specific country sounds high, but when you find out that the county has 2 million residents, the percentage of cases is 0.02%. If your child brought you a paper graded “10”, would you be happy or unhappy? Doesn’t it depend on if it’s out of 10 or our of 100?
  4. NEWS IS RARE: That’s why they call it news. Ever wonder why the flu is not reported on, even though it has a much higher mortality rate? It’s too common. If something happens every day, there will be no reports.
  5. BEWARE OF SPECULATION: There is still too little data to make good decisions on this. This fact does not stop the torrent of models, speculation, and other information, bombarding us from all sides.
  6. USE REASON: Humans have one exceptional quality that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and that it is the ability to reason. However, when we go into uncertain times like this, we fall back into instinct. Rise above it and use your human abilities to think things through, before you jump to instinctual conclusions
  7. THINK PAST IT: a trick I use when I’m about to do something I don’t necessarily like (like a dentist’s appointment) is that I focus my mind on a timeframe AFTER the event which I am dreading has occurred. For example, think about the delicious lunch you will pick up after the appointment. Think about the first thing you will do after the crisis, and focus on that.

These tips are not just for the crisis of today but apply in any future crisis as well – whether its another black swan or disruption in your space.

This, too, shall pass.