Why We Need to Lead

Published on March 22nd, 2020

Imagine being able to make a phone call to your past self 90 days ago. Imagine describing the absurdity of toilet paper outages and how entire states are now being asked (and some forced) to quarantine. Imagine saying how some beer companies have stopped making beer and are instead producing and shipping bottles of sanitizer. Imagine trying to tell them that Trump was potentially going to send every American thousands of dollars a month just to keep the economy afloat.

Imagine the laughter from the voice on the other line. “Is this some prank phone call? What are you smoking?”

Certainly, Covid19 has made the world unrecognizable to ourselves and our sense of reality. Entire industries are out of jobs, schools and universities are being shut down, people are being forced to work from home, and grocery stores may be the only place we’ll be able to socialize with people in real life.

The certainty of what the future will look like in 5 years has been replaced by the uncertainty about what life may look like in 5 days. This is stressful for just about everyone because it can feel impossible to make decisions while the fabric of life is being ripped apart and re-weaved underneath us.

People are freaked out. They want certainty. They want a plan. They want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They want to know there will be enough food on the table. They want to know there will be enough money in the bank to pay for food.

People want a map. They want to be able to look out at the horizon and make good decisions, but the fog of war in today’s landscape means they can only see a few feet in front.

The unknown can paralyze most people. How can one confidently walk a path that they cannot see?

Unfortunately, the stakes are high, and the moment is brief. Standing still or following the best practices of yesterday may not be the best practice of today.

The world is looking for leaders to lead us. Unfortunately, too many people are waiting for the fog to lift or for permission to act. But leadership is not a job title. Leaders may have the same fears in our minds and a sour feeling in our guts. But if no one stands up to create a vision and inspire a tribe to act, we may all find ourselves sitting ducks on a sinking ship.

Leadership doesn’t mean one has to be skilled or all the resources or know-how available. It doesn’t have to be world-scale heroics. It can take the form of helping a church or recovery group move their meetings online. It can be helping food banks get connected with donors or distribution trucks. It can be calling people that you know are isolated and helping them feel connected versus alone.

We need to lead.

This moment could all turn out to be a big, overblown Y2K. Or it could be the biggest crisis to hit the world since WWII. The history books will undoubtedly tell whatever outcome happens. In the interim, it’s better to act as if the worst is in front of us so that it doesn’t catch humanity flat-footed.

This could be our biggest threat. It can also be our finest hour. There are leaders in hiding in every single tribe and community across the world. We need them to have the courage to stand up. We need you to stand up in any way you can. If we don't, it's possible that the titanic will sink while we sit in indecision.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.