Why You Should Expect the Worst

Like most people, you’re adapting. You’ve made changes to your business, which might include supply chains, go-to-market tactics, and people practices. You’re getting a feel for how the market is responding. You’re getting used to the new reality.

Don’t. Don’t get used to it. This so-called new reality may not last long. A combination of psychological and environmental factors could cause things to get a lot worse.

To start, the relaxation and feel-good activities of the summer will give way to a “back-to-work” mindset and, for many, the relative melancholy of the fall. Consider, too, that the days are getting noticeably shorter. Reduced daylight hours can produce symptoms ranging from the “winter blues” to outright depression. Known as “SAD” — seasonal affective disorder — this condition affects an estimated 20 percent of the population.

Uncertainty is inherently stressful. Having navigated through the first wave of COVID-related uncertainty, the current wave is being propelled by questions about schooling, extracurricular activities for kids, and child-care. We’re living through an experiment in progress. How it plays out and the resulting implications are yet to be determined.

More anxiety will emerge with the onset of flu season. Those who experience symptoms will naturally ask, “Do I have the flu or do I have COVID?!” Those who have been in contact with people experiencing symptoms will similarly question their exposure and feel anxious.

Compliance with any behavior that is inconvenient or undesirable — such as wearing a mask or social distancing — naturally wanes over time. As a result, compliance fatigue and even rebellion will increase.

The combined psychological effect of all these factors — the end of summer, reduced daylight hours, ongoing uncertainty, ambiguous health symptoms, and compliance fatigue — suggests we are likely to be less resilient than before in the face of a new COVID surge. And mental health-related issues are almost certain to rise.

How likely is such a resurgence? Hard to say. But as we enter the fall, compliance fatigue and people spending more time congregating indoors isn’t going to help. Neither will the mounting economic pressure felt by governments and businesses.

Expect the worst. More importantly, prepare for the worst. Even if the worst doesn’t happen, remember that it’s better to come loaded for bear and find rabbit, than the other way around. What should you do? Here’s a framework to help you get started:


Make it happen.


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