I started writing my newsletter, The Cautious Optimist, in the spring of 2009. Like today, that was a dark and scary time. The financial world was collapsing around us, unemployment was skyrocketing, and everything was very uncertain. I chose the title deliberately because it captured the attitude I was trying to cultivate – not a rose-colored “Little Mary Sunshine” perspective, but a realistic confidence that things would get better.
And here we are again. It’s a very different crisis from the 08-09 financial meltdown, but once again we are surrounded by collapse and uncertainty. It’s been 11 years, and I’m still writing The Cautious Optimist, and people are still reading and responding to it. No one knows what the future holds, but I’m confident that cautious optimism is still the best game in town.
Here are some pearls of wisdom I’ve encountered over the last few weeks:
The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid. (a paraphrase of the words of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav)
This situation is not the new normal; it is a time of extreme disruption. (Constance Dierickx, President, CD Consulting Group)
I feel like an extra in a really boring disaster movie. (CEO, marketing agency)
Right now is a time to ask for permission, not forgiveness. The best leaders are relying on experts to help them make smart decisions. This is not the time for cowboys. (Corporate attorney)
What we’re looking for right now are leaders who combine the qualities of Winston Churchill and Mr. Rogers. (Vice President, automotive company)
My friends and colleagues, I wish you good health, peace of mind, and the courage and stamina to navigate the tough challenges ahead. Although this situation is unique, all of us have made it through tough times before, and together we will do it again.