1,500

In Greek, there is this term called Euphemia which translates to be unshaken while walking the path. 

It’s not the path for everyone, but perhaps, specifically for you.

It’s about being resolved, knowing you are on the path you are supposed to be without worrying about what the critics say.

This is my 1,500 post.

And despite the errors or fear of failure or COVID-19, I publish.

Every day.

Drip by drip becoming a little better at this craft.

Onto the next 1,500 I go. Thank you for going on this journey. I hope it inspires you to make a difference.

Now go, make a ruckus.

Power

The corrupt all have one common characteristic about them:

They are afraid of losing their position of power.

And it’s because deep down if you knew what they knew, you wouldn’t be happy with the decisions they’ve made.

The person who is willing to cheat the system is most likely the person who stands to lose the most.

Of course, we are not talking about just money here. But also status, title, narrative…

The best leaders, however, follow the opposite strategy.

They are constantly giving power to others.

To give is to get.

Finding our place in the world

I don’t think there are people that actually hate the world. They hate their place in it.

The world is so vast that it is difficult to sift through and somewhere to mark your mark.

The problem though isn’t a lack of choices here but the fact there are too many. It’s paralyzing, frightening to hold that much responsibility. To set the compass and to go explore.

We are quite happy to sit at home and give this away. Because if it doesn’t work then we have an excuse—someone else to blame for our problems. Whereas when we choose we can now blame ourselves.

Except, that isn’t completely true either. We can also simply try again if the course we picked didn’t work. We can skip the blame and shame and just try again.

Even in the age of a global pandemic and threat of financial meltdown, you have more choices (and yes opportunity) to go do work that matters.

Try again. Today.

Fake news

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t acknowledge that fake news is a problem.

But…

I also don’t hear anyone say they’ve been a victim of it either.

Someone has to be.

Our narrative works so hard to protect ourselves that when faced with facts that bring us one step closer to the truth we are unwilling to change our minds. Because we click to confirm not to change our narrative.

Any meme or idea (or even a virus) in order to spread needs the host to interact with another person. In order to overcome this infodemic, it helps to think and understand how ideas spread through this current landscape.

It turns out, we stick to our sources that align with our current political narrative. Pew Research breaks this down perfectly. People who watch Fox News are consistently conservatives. Viewers that are consistently liberal will view multiple sources.

Status roles are in play. To confront is to challenge one’s status. How do you appeal to someone’s status when what they’ve posted is largely false? Difficult. Difficult because we are now having to confront their narrative.

We’ve been through this before. Just not to this scale. In the early days, AOL used to be gatekeepers of the front page of the internet. So, how do they sort what gets on the front page? (How does pay to play fit in all of this?)

Perhaps, Facebook is the problem in all of this. Most of us don’t go to Instagram for political insight. Yet, they are essentially the same company. One answer may be Wikipedia. Wikipedia figured out how to break the authoritative model of information. Volunteers after putting in time become essentially gatekeepers. And when someone puts in the information that is inaccurate, the volunteer sets it back to its previous setting. We now know that Wikipedia is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica. Open systems beat closed systems every time.

Not surprisingly, we are not actually that good at sifting through what is real and what is fake. The problem isn’t getting any better either.

Bottom line: When is the last time a tweet changed your mind? Probably never. They are here to amplify messages. And it is a good reminder when it comes to social media companies, we are not the customer, we are the product.

Beyond the job description

Most jobs are given with a simple set of instructions that outlines what the bare minimum is. We call this the standard.

You’re expected to clock in on time, properly dressed, finish projects under budget, turn in your TPS reports…

Yet, we are surprised when someone goes beyond what has been asked of them.

It isn’t in your job description to care, to be brave, or to do generous work. But that is what the great ones do.

To all those laying it on the line right now, thank you.

Keep making things better by making better things.

Come from behind the screen

In the era of email, sometimes the signal we send gets crossed and isn’t properly perceived.

Maybe we got careless in our wording. Perhaps we just rubbed someone the wrong way. Regardless, there is a trick that works every time to fix this.

Pick up the phone and call the person. Tell them what happened and how you are here to make it right.

Much more difficult to do when we are constantly hiding behind a screen.

Rule of thumb: If one email doesn’t fix the situation, call.

Mortality rate

There are some critics that say that this pandemic has been overblown and the mortality rate isn’t accurate.

And they would be half right. It isn’t accurate.

The mortality rate is a measure of how many deaths in a given population. It is a basic number to calculate:

Mortality Rate = Number of Deaths / Number of Cases

So, why is it so difficult to get an accurate number with COVID-19?

It is difficult because not everyone is receiving a test, incomplete reporting, you have people who can’t be accounted for because they are not systematic, overrun of hospitals and a myriad of other reasons. The more testing completed, the more likely you are to drive that number down.

But when we ask about the mortality rate, we are asking the wrong question.

A mortality rate of say 3.5% versus 2.5% should not be enough to change our behavior. These are numbers used for experts in the field trying to make sense of an unpredictable entity like a virus. The virus doesn’t care about these numbers—we do.

What is your narrative about the virus?

This experience is difficult to draw from

They say that good decision making come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.

Let’s be honest though, unless you are 102 years old (1918 Spanish Flu), we have never experienced anything like this before. Which means we don’t really know what to expect with the next step in all of this because there is no experience to draw back on.

Since everyone’s compass is a bit different from our own, each of us now creates a new standard, a set of rules, on how others should be behaving. No ones will match with others.

Which creates tension with the choices ahead.

How do we balance the impossible task of staying inside/social distancing versus opening the economy back up?

63% of Americans can’t come up with $500 for an emergency. So, most are not prepared to shelter in place the next 18 months until a vaccine is developed.

That in itself is a daunting challenge. The soonest we have ever developed a vaccine is 5 years. So, the timeline is difficult but not impossible. But then once you have a vaccine you have the challenges of production and distribution. (Who goes first?)

Social distancing saves lives and flattens the curve but it won’t ultimately stop the virus. Many are being put in a precarious situation, being forced back to work and increasing exposure. Hard choices are being made and unfortunately some will use this to exploit a personal agenda.

Bottom line: Let’s not be quick to judge others for the decisions they are making. We are all scared. Blame and intense criticism is only contributing to the violent conversations. This is a long road. The only way to change people’s minds is to craft a story that will inspire change. We can’t do this without first having empathy. We have to hear everyone’s needs.

Empathy leads to change. Not the other way around.

Hat tip: Take 10 minutes and read the well thought out piece by Bill Gates explaining the path to a vaccine. Very informative.

To be angry is to find fault

As the critic is quick to point out, there are those out there that don’t deserve our compassion, or our love or attention.

What about the murderer, the rapist, the corrupt, the dictator…

To this, we say: To be angry is to find fault.

Which doesn’t make us the best judge of characters because we can’t see all the choices and events that have lead to someone’s worst moment.

This isn’t to excuse bad behavior but rather we must understand when we are picking people apart we are only contributing to the violence.