It was January 2020 – a month and year that will live in infamy. Without a single shot being fired or missile being launched, World War III erupted without a sound. Undetected on any radar defense systems or counterintelligence reports, the enemy infiltrated the world with reckless abandon. The first counterattack was launched by China followed by other parts of the world. Troops suited up ready for war but not in camouflage, night vision equipment, and state of the art laser guided weapon systems. It was a different type of uniform and weaponry. Wait! What are we fighting? Who is the enemy? A virus, COVID-19 Coronavirus. Countries around the world took swift action and launched offensive measures. The cunning enemy eluded the best intelligence and defense systems and spread throughout the world like mighty rushing winds from above. The invisible enemy was merciless attacking everyone in its path.
While many countries engaged the enemy’s invisible attack with a thoughtful, well-planned, strategic approach, one of the world’s preeminent powers took a more theatrical approach. It attempted to “shoo” the virus away with the wave of the hand like swatting away flies at an outdoor cookout with wishful thinking, disregard for science and advice of medical professionals, and an unwillingness to follow public health guidelines. Needless to say, the strategy did not work and thousands upon thousands of innocent people perished.
The dramatization of COVID-19 is not a drama at all. It is a fact that the United States of America represents only 5 percent of the world’s population, but the country has reported 25 percent of COVID-19 cases worldwide. Why did this happen? What went wrong? If the idea is true: success or failure is the result of leadership, then leadership failed and is, in part, to blame for what happened.
With over 1.2 million deaths worldwide, and rising, what should the world do? What should you do? First, it is important to realize that everyone is a leader, even if only a leader of themselves. And each person has an important role to play with eliminating the virus. Pointing to failed leadership is not an excuse. The time is too dire and much too serious for that type of self-indulgence. We know what needs to be done – we must personally lead by wearing masks, practice social distancing, wash hands regularly, quarantine and follow the advice of scientists.
Given the gravity of the moment and the uncertainty of the times, there is no better time than now for all of mankind, young and old, to unite with the collective wisdom of the world, to imagine and build a future with limitless possibilities for a global community’s future generations. The consequences of inaction are unimaginable. This is our moment; we are the Leaders we have been looking for. If not now, when? If not us, who?
Thought Leader, Public Speaker and author of Leadership: The View From Here