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Resilience: Preparing for Post-Pandemic Life

by on April 28, 2020 5:00 AM


“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”  - Roy T. Bennett, author of “The Light in the Heart”

Let’s cut to the chase. We are living through perhaps the greatest global challenge since World War II. It’s also the first challenge on such an epic scale in the social media era. So much information, misinformation, and yes, even disinformation, is being spewed 24/7 on so many different platforms, that it’s never been harder to separate fact from opinion.

Even the so-called experts can’t agree on the numbers and how to analyze, interpret and forecast what the data really mean.  You have many saying it could be 18 months before we can go back to our “regular” lives. At the opposite end, others are arguing that we have overreacted and should be opening up the economy as soon as possible and to “just” let the virus run its course through herd immunity. As in most things in life, I suspect the best strategy lies somewhere between the extremes.

Let’s try to agree on at least this fact: Everyone sees through their own set of lenses when it comes to how we should deal with the COVID-19 virus. We throw around the word empathy a lot. But I think you are kidding yourself if you really know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes right now. I hear my friends who are essentially being paid to stay at home, talk as though they can relate to a single parent with three kids who lost their only source of income and wonders where their next meal will come from and if they can pay rent. There are people who live in a small rural town trying to tell people in a densely populated city how they should live their lives and vice versa. Everyone has a specific point of view (their own) and too many want a simple “one-size-fits-all” solution to one of the most complex and complicated challenges we have ever faced.

Which Best Describes You?

“We need everyone to stay inside, follow the expert’s advice, wait until we have a vaccine, and that way we will beat this virus no matter how long it takes. We can’t take risks.”

“We need to kickstart the economy now by opening businesses back up and letting people get back to work. If I have no income, I can’t pay my rent or put food on the table and won’t have a life.”

Wow. Talk about a dilemma. Which side you favor probably depends on your personal situation and which of the lenses you view it from. To me lives AND livelihoods both matter and in fact, are inseparable.

I have faith in the scientific and research communities, the business and manufacturing companies, and the spirit of the human race to conquer this invisible enemy by working together. If only we could keep politics out of it. That’s another story for a different day.

Here is the best piece of advice I can give you:  Control what you can control.  

Take Care of Yourself (and Your Loved Ones)

First and foremost, take care of yourself (and your loved ones) as best you can. I am talking about physically, psychologically and emotionally. Choose how you spend this time wisely.  Are you overeating? Drinking more alcohol than you should? Are you being creative in finding ways to exercise and trying to eat as healthy as possible to protect your own immune system? Are you spending too much time binge-watching television and old movies?

“The number one question that employers will ask in job interviews in the immediate future will be: What did you do with yourself during the quarantine?” businessman and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban recently said. I hope that you will say you learned a new skill, practiced improving old skills, did something to add value to your life and perhaps to improve your resume for the post-pandemic world. I reached out to colleagues and friends and mentors to network. 

You must be ready to pivot in case the job you had no longer exists or changes significantly in the post-pandemic era. Many businesses and industries will survive, others will even thrive, and many will be hiring. What are you doing to position yourself to take advantage of the new options?

Manage Your Money 

What else is in your control? Your money management, especially your spending habits. Short term you might have to put off a major purchase. Maybe you will have to put going to college off for a year until things settle down or go to an in-state school or community college to limit your debt. This is precisely when a pragmatic passion mindset must prevail. Those people who did save for a rainy day will still have to adjust and make sacrifices, but they won’t be nearly as painful as for those who spent beyond their means. For most of us, a delayed gratification mindset is a must right now.

Do you find yourself asking, “When will things get back to normal?” Well, in my humble opinion, the definition of “normal” has changed forever given what we are facing as a society because of COVID-19. If you find yourself having difficulty handling change, then this may be the precise time in your life when you don’t have a choice but to learn how. If it’s a struggle, seek guidance and professional assistance to the best of your abilities.

We have, as a society, learned how to get off of horses to drive cars; to get into airplanes to decrease time to travel to far away destinations. We have learned how to use a device that fits in the palm of our hands that can handle more calculations than an original computing machine that took up an entire room. We have learned how to rebound from economic disasters like the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and we adjusted to new norms post 9-11 terrorist attacks.

We will get through this virus as well.

What Do You Need to Prepare for The Post-Pandemic Era? 

A resilience mindset. Resilience is the ability to cope in trying times, despite cutbacks, setbacks and scarce resources. It’s what you are willing to do during tough times to overcome great challenges and to see the opportunity in the adversity. It’s how mentally and emotionally tough you are willing and able to be in the face of that adversity.

I simply refer to it as The Power of Pragmatic Passion. Use your head AND your heart when making decisions and then act to implement your plan. Use all the available data and information to develop options and make informed, dispassionate decisions. You can continue to dream big, while you keep it real, as you are preparing to get it done. This is not the time to be reckless or cavalier with your money or your career plans. This is precisely when a pragmatic passion mindset must prevail. 

This is the time to apply situational awareness and scenario planning strategies. Develop short-term, mid-term and long-term plans that take into account different time frames for a resolution to the impact of the virus. Whether there is a relatively quick solution (2-4 months), a moderate resolution (6-10 months) or a slow resolution to the impact of the virus (12-18 months).

Maybe I am being too idealistic, but I worry equally about putting lives in danger and ruining livelihoods. We have already, in many ways, mortgaged the economic future for our kids and grandkids. We really need to pool resources, put politics aside, work together and develop the best solutions to this epic challenge.

If we are resilient, we will come back stronger.  We will be the victors not the victims. We will prosper in the post-pandemic era.



Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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