The Storm is Upon Us.

The Storm is Upon Us.

I’m a relatively inexperienced sailor in unknown waters, which is one of many reasons I hire an experienced captain with local knowledge whenever I’m offshore and out of my element. I joke with friends when we go sailing in the midwest on small lakes. During a quick safety briefing of the boat, I remind them, “It’s a small lake. You can see the shore from the both sides of the vessel. If this thing goes down, you can still swim to shore.”

Hence, I won’t willingly sail in bad weather, although storms pop up from time to time regardless of the local forecast. And I have one big piece of advice about sailing in bad weather: even if you’re lucky, you’ll perform only to your highest level of training.

Bringing a sailboat into harbor in gale force winds, as I’ve been forced to do only three times, is not for the inexperienced captain. Luckily, all three times were in my home port and I wasn’t entertaining any guests onboard. Each time I learned a few things and got better, but all three were only at the level of my training or worse. When the storm is upon you, autonomous behavior and muscle memory kick in. There’s no time for reflection and if you find yourself in a situation for which you are not prepared, while sailing, you can quite literally lose your boat, your life or both.

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic depression have had their ups and downs. As more and more cities and states start their second round of shutdowns, make no mistake. The storm is upon us.

United Airlines will furlough over 30,000 employees. Delta has steered 17,000 employees into early retirement as it reports a $7 billion second-quarter loss. Millions of Americans are about to lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the month. Because our economy is built on consumer spending and mobility, these canaries in the coal mine are extremely ominous. Millions of jobs rely on travel. The resulting economic loss will be devastating.

European banks are setting negative interest rates, while JP Morgan just reported a $10 billion loss. The U.S government is running a $3 trillion deficit. Anyone telling you things will be just fine, without the caveat that it really depends on your amount of preparation, is either delusional, lying to you or both. There is no way to sugar coat it. Things are going to get a lot worse for a lot of people who are unprepared.

Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and following along with the 30 updates I’ve sent since the beginning of the pandemic. By now, I’m assuming you’ve urgently placed attention on your cashflow and overhead. I’m assuming you’ve been working on the “muscle memory” of enhancing the relationship with your list of patients, clients, customers or donors. I trust you have a contingency plan in place.

I sincerely hope you haven’t been distracted by all the new-fangled things your peers and competitors might be doing “in preparation for their rebound,” as the only thing that should be on your mind in the middle of a storm is how to safely navigate to harbor. You have zero time for distractions.

Just like a sailor, you’ll need all the tried and true tools of navigation, route markers and guiding lights that I’ve been teaching here for years. You’ll need to depend on this training and your grit in order to survive the next 6 months. You will get through this challenge. This is what you’ve been training for and why you are the leader in your organization. I’m here to help however I can. Reach out to my team at 800-891-7520 or [email protected] and Godspeed.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.