You Are Scared-Aren’t You?

Fear and complacency often tend to walk together.

1938, the beginning of the second world war saw a fear of chemical bombs use by the Germans leading to 38 million gas masks being issued to British citizens and Air Raid Precautions (ARP), a civil defence organisation established in 1924, trained people in their use; decontamination centres were set up and the emergency services taught first-aid for toxic exposure.

On the outbreak of war, it was estimated that 75 per cent of people took their gas mask with them but the absence of air raids saw the proportion fall to 5 per cent by spring 1940. Defeat in France and the Dunkirk evacuation witnessed a temporary rise to 30 per cent, but by the time the Blitz hit London the Home Office reported ‘there is no evidence that a large proportion of people anywhere now carry their gas masks’ (Anon., 1940, p.2).

The covid crisis has been a similar roller-coaster for people across the world.

First reactions were obviously oblivious to the seriousness of the crisis.

Lockdowns, job losses, work from home made people realize the impact of this once in a lifetime occurrence.

Then the first wave started to ebb, people itching to get back to normal lives and governments trying to normalize the economic impacts loosened the restrictions.

Mask/no-mask no one was bothered.

Vaccination had not yet started but victory on Covid was declared.

Fear was overthrown and complacency set in.

Then came the second wave.

Despite the first wave, we were not prepared.

Whatever was created had been dismantled.

Supply-chains were neglected.

Despite second wave having hit several countries viciously, we had assumed that it will not impact us.

The intensity of the wave-4 times the case of previous peak.

Every household seeing the tragedy unfold in their homes, with their friends and relatives.

The cries for oxygen, hospital beds, ventilators and how woefully short we were in addressing the basics was killing the spirit.

Yes-The fear is real, and we are not prepared.

Neither mentally nor in terms of resources.

Circle of Life

This just is the way the circle moves.

When the wind is with you, you might also feel like Usain Bold.

By the way with professionals’ records are not counted if the wind is with you.

In good times, any decision you make can go right.

This creates a false sense of competence that can make anyone feel like an expert.

However, it is when the volatility of life hits you that you realize how much of experts we actually are.

Good times-you can do eeni, meeni, miini moh and get things right.

When things go wrong, you realize you had no idea why you took a decision in the first place.

Like all good lessons, the learning can be brought down to few basic points:

  • Do you understand what you are getting into?
  • Do you know what you are trying to achieve?
  • Have you prepared yourself for the roller-coaster?
  • Do you know the risks and the rewards of your behavior/decision?
  • Are you prepared to withstand the risks and its after-effects?

Remember when you don’t know “why a decision went right?”, you would also not know what do to when it goes wrong and why is it that it is going wrong.

You can apply this to covid behavior, life in general or investments in particular and it will point in the same direction.

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