If you’re old enough to remember 9/11, you remember how crazy and upended everything felt in the days, weeks and years following that day.
There was the immediate shock of watching the planes hit the buildings – I still remember the sound of my wife’s voice when she called me into the room and pointed at the television – and then there was the long period of uneasiness in the following days of entering a time where there was no defined playbook.
It’s been a couple decades since and memories have faded, but I’ve never forgot how that moment in time not only altered things in a big societal way – politics, travel, international relations – but also how it set into motion lots of smaller changes in so many lives, changes that ultimately sprouted into new relationships, careers, and even new businesses.
One former coworker of mine quit his job as a technology analyst and went into the FBI to fight terrorism. Another woke up and realized he needed to get serious about his life and went on to start one of tech industry’s most well-known tech blogs. There are million other stories like this of lives inalterably changed across the country and around the world.
And while it’s too early to tell just how extensive the damage of the COVAD-19 coronavirus will be, it’s pretty obvious at this point that there will be many more deaths, economies will continue to slow and many jobs will be lost.
My suspicion is the impact will be big, on the scale of what we saw in 2001, and because of this we’re going to go through a reset that we’ll all have to grapple with. Resets can be bad in many ways – sickness, death and job losses are all very bad things – but I hope down the road we’ll also see some good.
We talked on this week’s podcast about the potential ways in which the coronavirus could accelerate change in the world of food, increasing adoption of fairly new technology and ways of doing things such as human-less check out, automated food dispensing and more.
But I think the bigger impact in the world of food and most other industries will be realized over a longer time horizon, in ways that only come with the way a reset makes us, societally and individually, rethink things in meaningful ways.
Forced to say home, cancel travel, and social distance? Difficult, no doubt, but such down time also means an opportunity to think about what it all means and to reassess. New business ideas, many of them taking into account our new mutual reality, will spring up and over the next year, two years, decade.
We still need to be realistic. There could be many dark days ahead. But, while many of us are going to have to grapple in the near term with potentially big disruptions to our lives, careers and businesses (I run an event business and I’m thinking about what this all means), I am still hopeful for what will be millions of inspiring stories of human resourcefulness and ingenuity that spring out of this globally shared experience in the coming years.