Published: 18th April 2020
Here's how you can deal with the COVID-19 lockdown — be positive and realistic
Pro Tip: Turn uncertain experiences into defining moments. Be realistic, that’s the best strategy
Bhaiyya, said Rahul over a video call, ‘I’m waiting for the lockdown to end so I can get back to normal life.’ ‘What’s wrong with you?’ asked Rinku. ‘Why’d you want to run out as you’ve escaped from prison?’ ‘But the lockdown will be lifted, right?’ asked Rahul.
‘We should be optimistic, right bhaiyya?’ ‘No,’ said Rinku. ‘We should consider the worst-case scenario.’‘Let’s talk to Prof Hussain, our Business Management professor,’ said Rakesh. ‘He shared interesting thoughts in our online class.’ Rakesh added Prof Hussain and explained their dilemma. ‘Well,’ said Prof Hussain, ‘This is not the time for optimism or pessimism. This is the time for realism. Whenever we’re facing a severe crisis, we’re better off following the Stockdale Paradox.’ ‘What’s that, sir?’ asked Rahul. ‘James Stockdale was a US Vice-Admiral who survived eight years as a prisoner in a Vietnamese camp not knowing if and when his ordeal would end,’ said Prof Hussain. ‘Jim Collins wrote about Stockdale’s experience in his book Good to Great. What the Stockdale Paradox says is that we must never lose faith that we’ll make it through difficult, uncertain periods — like the one we’re facing now. However, we must not get over-optimistic.’ ‘What?’ asked Rinku. ‘How’s that possible?’
‘That’s the paradox,’ laughed Prof Hussain. ‘Many of us are over-optimistic and expect things to be normal soon. And when we realise that the uncertainty could last longer and things could get worse, we lose heart and give up. Instead, we’re better off being aware of the most brutal facts of our reality and figuring out how to cope with it day on day.’ ‘What’s being realistic, sir?’ asked Rahul. ‘As this uncertain situation evolves, there could be more changes in days to come. Limited access, online classes, restricted travel, not meeting friends and relatives, no partying or eating out, quarantines and lockdowns — are all possibilities. We must be aware that such situations could arise and be prepared. That’s being realistic. Use the Stock-dale Paradox well and make it a defining moment in your life,’ said Prof Hussain.
‘Indeed,’ said Rinku. ‘I’ll add a healthy dose of realism to my chai right now. We needed this.’