It is easy to forget the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the first event of the Great Depression that peaked three years later in 1932. As we hit the 120th day since the Virus shut us down on March 19, 2020, it is time to wonder, are we anywhere close to a turnaround, or are we merely four months into a three-year crisis?
Where we are now.
One month ago, things seemed to be controlled well enough that it had become livable. Wall Street was discussing a V or U shaped recovery. Now, in mid-July, talk turns to a W or L shaped recovery; that is, more hard times ahead.
Everyone I talk to is nervous. The virus counts today are bad. The death counts, which generally lag virus counts by three weeks, are going up. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest these counts will get lower soon. One Percent of the US Population has become sick and of those people 3.8% have died. At the current rate, by November, six million more Americans will have been sick, and another 200,000 will die of it. That is 1000 times the deaths on 9/11.
What Comes Next?
The Senate is stalled giving aid while Renters and Mortgage holders reach the end of their grace period. I know of more than one person selling their house this month because they cannot afford the payments. These trends portend a banking crisis ahead of us that will make 2008 look small. Earnest Hemingway writes; “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
Our Next Step.
This is a time to focus, to think clearly about the parts of the business that are working, and to leverage that to cover expenses. Focus is difficult when self esteem is low. Self esteem is low because the world is filled with difficulties that are beyond our coping skills. It becomes easy to loop back on worry and become unable to plan.
Growth despite Obstacles
We need to grow our business. We need to do it because that is what we do. The world does not end just because we think the world is ending. Our customers will continue on, and so should we. The best thing too remember is that all the obstacles we face in business, are being faced by our competitors. Our goal is to stay one step ahead of them.
Focus is hard right now. The distractions become an overwhelming fog of confusion. How can you plan business growth when the business conditions cannot be predicted? But this is the same as the day you started your business, you had no idea what would happen. The difference between then and now is your self-esteem and drive to succeed.
There is a saying; “To build self esteem, do esteemable things”. I have found this to be true. By helping others and by generously contributing, we gain back self respect, and the ability to focus. In the big picture my finances are a disaster and there is no hope for the future. But this month, and this week, I am doing fine, and the small amounts of time and money I can give out will mean a great deal to those I can help.
The foundation of recovery will be built on the small steps we take today to help other people, to help our customers, and to help our vendors. Mutual help will bind us into a functioning economy. Focus on this economy comes from being whole and being a contributor.
My Dad’s parents were married October 14, 1934. It is hard for me to imagine two teenagers meeting, falling in love and getting married during the depths of the hardship years. The grim black and white pictures and the distant commentary do little to capture he meaning from that time. But then, like now, every day ordinary people ate, and worked and slept. The world recovered from the Great Depression and became 50 years of Pax Americana and prosperity. The world will do it again. It is our choice now to become a leading participant.