The Worst of Times, the Best of Us
By: Sandra Welch-Farrell – CEO, SWF&Co. Public Relations | August 12th, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing out the best of us and the best in us.
At first blush, this assertion might seem utterly divorced from reality. After all, aren’t we treated every week to media reports about people not social distancing, not wearing masks, and otherwise behaving in irresponsible and even reckless ways?
But media by its very nature highlights what is not the norm. There is no reason to report on the vast majority of individuals who, in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, are ensuring that their loved ones are safe and protected. There is little reason to report how both individuals and companies are adapting to the so-called “new normal” while trying to ensure that their lives and the lives of their employees remain as normal as possible.
My biggest executive challenge has been keeping SWF&CO afloat, while at the same time helping our team feel supported and engaged. In so doing, it has become clear that we – by which I mean everyone on the planet – are going to need new ideas, new institutions, and blueprints to navigate this storm.
But this is exactly why I am encouraged. Already, we have begun to see a period of massive innovation like no other time in humankind’s modern history. Changes that normally take years, if not decades, have been instituted within weeks. In developed countries, we have seen deregulation of business strictures which has facilitated economic activity even during lockdowns. The shift to online services has accelerated to unprecedented levels, cutting long-term costs for companies and improving customer service. If I have a caveat, it is only that Trinidad and Tobago has not yet got on board with these necessary transformations to the extent demanded in this new era.
The fact is, T&T should be planning for three years of tough economic times – at least. This is nothing we haven’t faced before, albeit in a different context, thanks to the boom-and-bust nature of our economy. But we need to make difficult decisions earlier rather than later, while and keeping our focus on our desired outcomes. We have to narrow the band of inequalities in Trinidad and Tobago, especially as it affects the poor and disadvantaged (and I know that many individuals and companies have already been doing exactly this). We have got to have insight and galvanize our teams to power through the coronavirus constraints. I have been amazed at the resilience and creativity which have come to the fore over the past few months.
This pandemic, defined by social distancing and mask-wearing, could in a very real sense destroy souls: that sense of togetherness and camaraderie that defines human existence. And this is exactly why the optimists and the implementers are even more important in this new world.
We are undergoing a national and global metamorphosis. Fear and uncertainly will define the transition but, once we remain steadfast, I believe we will emerge stronger and better prepared for the challenges of a new world economy.
Written by: Sandra Welch-Farrell – CEO, SWF&Co. Public Relations