I received the following letter today from a client and it spoke to me. It spoke to me because of how pure, true and relatable this message is. I’ve chosen to share it with you because I want you to know that the fear you are likely experiencing amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is normal and it’s OK.
Everyone—and I mean everyone from world leaders, to business leaders, to those employed by those businesses, to consumers and families at home—everyone is experiencing some elements of fear right now. We are in an unchartered, unpredictable, and highly volatile global situation; a crisis that is impacting every single person and every single business and it’s scary.
However, I feel that it’s important for you to know that in this, you are not alone. There are resources available to you to help you through this. To help you gain clarity and foresight, to the most extent possible at this time, and to help you use that to better protect yourself, your family, and your organization.
So, I’m sharing the below because of the beautiful way that this professional has expressed the fears that she is working through, the hesitations that they have caused with regards to her crisis readiness, and the way she and her team are working to overcome them. All of which, I find remarkable, highly relatable, and filled with hope and inspiration. And I hope you will too.
I also want to take a moment to thank Bridget for her selflessness and bravery in, not just writing this letter, but for granting me permission to share it with all of you.
Yesterday, I attended a (free) COVID-19 Crisis Ready Webinar hosted by Melissa Agnes, where she discussed the impact of the Coronavirus on businesses and what we can be doing to minimize the risk to our companies. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, I highly suggest listening to the replay.
I have been working with Melissa for at least 5 years. I “get” her message. I understand the importance of being crisis ready and using the best messaging during an issue or crisis. Our company has been through some issues and crises over the years and I have followed her directives and survived all situations with little or no lasting negative impact. So, trust me when I say that “I get it”.
I preface my comments with that because yesterday, like many, I succumbed to the fear of the Coronavirus. Not that I would get sick, but the fear that acknowledging the virus would more negatively impact our touring and flight school business than not doing anything at all. I listened intently to the conversation in the webinar and still found myself resisting to do anything proactive. I worried that by being proactive I would bring attention to the problem and people would not want to fly in a small aircraft and our business would suffer more financial impact as a result.
At our company I am not the final word. I am the person that brings the research to the table and participates in discussions for moving forward. But I am the one that most understands being crisis ready due to my training with Melissa. Waking up today, I have minimized (not eliminated) my fear of saying something because the fact is that something must be said. We must take the leadership position and let our customers know that we are putting their safety and the safety of our communities first.
After much discussion with our leadership, research on COVID-19 and tourism, and a serious headache, I am better able to keep the fear at bay. This does not mean we are not faced with significant challenges. For example, one of those challenges is to be able to continue to disinfect our planes repeatedly when, the truth of the matter is we are constantly working to ensure that our access to sanitation products does not evaporate. Even trying to make DIY disinfection products is a challenge because the ingredients are not readily available. Another challenge is crafting the right questions and responses to our international customers, while not having full context into their regional situations. We are still working on all of this and may be for a while.
All of this is to say that I understand being crisis ready but even with my experience, fear can still raise its ugly head and become a roadblock when you least expect it. Even the most prepared of us are, after all, still human. If it wasn’t for the wisdom in yesterday’s webinar and some hand holding by Melissa, I wouldn’t feel as comfortable moving forward in our actions. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun but it will be the right thing to do, and I’m grateful to have a resource like the Crisis Ready Community to provide support, compassion and advice in a moment when it is proving to be of the utmost advantage.
Links to the Crisis Ready COVID-19 Resources mentioned above
– A replay of the Crisis Ready COVID-19 Webinar is available to you for free. Click here to gain access.
– If you’d like to learn more about the Crisis Ready Community and the Crisis Ready COVID-19 Coaching Group that Bridget refers to, click here.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.