The Light at the End of the Tunnel: 50 Reasons to Be Hopeful During This Crisis

Ten business leaders share what they're doing to think positively.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel: 50 Reasons to Be Hopeful During This Crisis
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

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The current crisis has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Most of us of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling and sheltering in place. Many have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. It has heightened our sense of uncertainty, fear and loneliness.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Authority Magazine recently interviewed scores of business leaders and wellness professionals asking them to share their five reasons to be hopeful during the crisis. 

Ten highlights of their responses can be found below.

Dr. Donna Volpitta of Pathways to Empower

Dr. Donna Volpitta of Pathways to Empower
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

In my work, I talk to people about the brain science of resilience and mental health. Before this, we were experiencing several crises that were much less immediate, such as climate change and the rising levels of anxiety, depression, addiction and suicide, particularly among young people. Some of our modern lifestyle choices have set us up for significant problems, and I see this time as an opportunity for a turning point. Here are my five reasons to be hopeful:

1. This is an opportunity to teach resilience

Modern life has allowed so many people to protect and micromanage their kids, which has led to a number of young adults who are not prepared to handle common challenges. I love Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book How to Raise an Adult because it shines a light on the basic skills that young adults seem to be lacking. This crisis is going to take some of that ability to shelter kids away, and kids are going to be forced to handle some challenges that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. The key is for parents to understand that this can actually be a good thing and that they have the opportunity to support their children in learning to handle those challenges. I always say that our response to any challenge is based on the way that we think about four S's: self, situation, supports and strategies. We develop out thoughts around those four S's based on the challenges that we handle throughout our lives. If we never learn to handle small challenges, we do not build up our capacity to handle the larger challenges. Parents can use this as an opportunity to help their kids develop thinking around those four S's.

2. This is an opportunity to develop critical brain systems & balance brain chemicals

This goes along with the idea of building resilience because when we learn to handle challenges, we are naturally helping to foster mental health. Our brains were designed to seek challenges. When we work hard toward a goal, struggling and working with different strategies, our brain receives neurochemicals. Think about those neurochemicals as messages to our brain. When we struggle and work hard and then finally succeed, we get a big burst of neurochemical rewards  —  dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin  —  all of which help to keep our brains healthy and motivated toward working on another goal. If we are just getting those neurochemicals from immediate rewards (say, a “like” on social media), we are priming the brain for addiction. I love to say to people that self-esteem is not a gift you can give, it is a neurochemical response you rob someone of when you don’t let them struggle.

3. This is an opportunity to forge stronger relationships

We are social beings, and our brains are designed to form relationships with others. In the model that I created to help people understand the brain, I include the tools of a healthy brain. Two of the tools directly relate to our relationships with others. The first, which I used a walkie-talkie to represent is just our connection with others. For many people, time has been such a barrier to interacting with our family members, and this quarantine can be a gift of family time if we use it as such. As a mom of four adolescence, I know that it is important to balance family time and time with friends, so we are making sure to schedule in time and activities together and to encourage kids to engage in online social get-togethers with friends. Another one of the tools, represented by a merit badge, is “compassion, pride and gratitude.” Our brains are healthier when we engage in these activities, so we can use this time together to reach out to others digitally or by phone to see if we can offer support.

4. This is an opportunity to develop creative problem-solving skills

I have talked a lot about individuals and families, but now I want to turn to how we might be optimistic in a wider sense. As a nation and a world, this crisis is going to push us to be creative about our problem-solving, which I believe is ultimately going to help us to be able to handle some of the other longer-term crises. We are beginning to recognize just how interdependent we have become and that it is critical that we work together in order to handle challenges ahead. Climate change is something that has truly concerned me for a while. Perhaps addressing this more immediate crisis will help us to recognize that we can we make some changes in lifestyle that will help the planet. A few weeks ago, I do not think that many people would have been able to envision all the changes we have made.

5. This is an opportunity to set priorities for our future

All of this leads to the most important reason to be hopeful: This can be a turning point for setting priorities for our future. In our brains, we have two primary systems, one that is in charge of our fast, reactive responses (system one) and one that guides our slow, analytic thinking (system two). These systems also respond in different time frames. System one is in charge of decisions for the here and now; system two is in charge of decisions for the future. When we are babies, our system one is in place, but not our system two. As our brains develop, we form the ability to self-regulate, which means we understand how to defer our immediate desires for longer-term benefits. We need to have that same discipline in order to address the larger priorities for the future of the world, and I am hopeful that this crisis might serve as our wake-up call for that.

Gene Kansas, founder of Gene Kansas Commercial Real Estate

Gene Kansas, founder of Gene Kansas Commercial Real Estate
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

The global and hyper-local crisis we find ourselves in today is what I call “my fifth rodeo.” I’ve weathered great storms and thrived later as a result. As a professional in commercial real estate, these rodeos include: the dot-com bust, 9–11, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession and now this health crisis.

Each of these “rodeos” started rather abruptly, shifting evolution into high speed and doing so in a remarkably visible manner. My five reasons to be hopeful are derived from lessons learned and silver lining outcomes realized from the five rodeos.

1. Increased focus learned during the dot-com bust

Tech firms were spending money like crazy, pioneering a new landscape, with many operating with reckless abandon and without the customer truly in mind, sending the stock market into a prolonged fall and wiping out companies not intently focused. This will focus companies on what’s most important: us. We want a business world that’s more concerned with our health, and that’s what they’re going to deliver.

2. Greater solidarity  experienced during 9–11

The tragedy of 9–11 served as a galvanizing force in America and in many places around the world. This crisis is both global and hyper-local, and it is bringing the world and our country closer together  —  a nice change from the vitriol of recent years.

3. Culture of preparedness  learned by Hurricane Katrina

I heard recently, “If you stay ready, then you’ll be ready.” If we’re learning anything right now, it’s to “be prepared!” We’ll have less fear moving forward in the future knowing we’re better prepared, so put in the effort now.

4. Personal growth from the Great Recession

Today, 40 percent of the workforce is independent contractors, freelancers and solo entrepreneurs, and that shift came from people losing their jobs or not being able to get one during the Great Recession. Now we have our own gigs. This is a time to refine and strengthen your business, to experience personal growth. Yes, it will take work, and it’s a substantially important effort. In evolution, you either adapt to the specific environment you find yourself in … or you become a dinosaur. Don’t become a dinosaur.

5. Health

This will teach us that nothing is more important than our health.  

Jackie Minchillo, Pineapple Development

Jackie Minchillo, Pineapple Development
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. Opportunity lives in chaos and adversity

The greatest successes of my life thus far have all been born out of great challenge and struggle. Holding my grandfather’s head in my lap as he took his last breath when I was 21 taught me the importance of saying yes to life. Taught me the value in taking a chance. Taught me the importance of taking action and making decisions without hesitation. That sort of experience with death at a young age will teach you what the expression “Live each day like it’s your last” really means. My husband and I lost everything in a total-loss fire in our 20s. That experience allowed me to let go of my attachment to physical things and not only prevented me from making some potentially financially disastrous decisions in my early adult life, but also freed me from the thinking that I needed to have certain things in order to appear successful. That kind of mental shift can jolt you into focusing on the things that are truly important and free you from having your vision clouded by false appearances and perceptions. Having to manage essentially our own version of hospice care (because hospice care as we know it in the United States is not really a thing in Costa Rica) for my mom (alongside my dad and my husband), and holding her hand as she gasped for her last breath in our guest bedroom, not even two months after a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, was the catalyst for massive change in the direction of my life in my late 20s, both spiritually and in business. The decision to take the leap and bring Pineapple Development to life came a few months after her passing. Having to pull the plug on already-in-motion plans to build a home in Costa Rica to move back to the U.S. was devastating in its own way. My husband is originally from Brazil and is a U.S. green card holder; and we were told to maintain lawful status in the U.S., we needed to move back or he could give up his green card. We could have given it up, but going back to quick decision-making, we knew our time in the U.S. was not completely a thing of the past. While leaving the life we had built there behind was gut-wrenching, it quickly became clear we were in the right place when our other two businesses came together naturally, shortly after our move. And these are just a few examples. We’ve dealt with legal stressors, massive credit card debt, being betrayed by business associates; these situations always have the potential to break you or fuel you. Choose the latter.

2. Is this a shift society needed?

I see incredible connection going on in the midst of social distancing. It has become the norm in our society that children are raised in large part by people other than their parents. On the whole, I’ve seen more people playing outside with their kids in the backyard or in the park or going for a jog or a bike ride than I’ve seen probably since I was a kid myself. You can only watch so much Netflix and YouTube (we’re also finding space to recognize those limits, which is refreshing). The creativity I’m getting to see via my Facebook and Instagram feeds by parents is nothing short of incredible. Families are eating meals together without a set timeline because there’s nowhere they have to be. For me personally, we’ve had acquaintances and business associates reach out to schedule a Zoom call, simply to chat. To get to know each other better, without an agenda. There’s nothing but good to come from this when it comes to human connection.

3. This experience is bringing us back to our true nature in many ways

On the superficial level, for example, people are canceling hair appointments, not getting their nails done, skipping Botox sessions, not going to eyelash extension appointments or their next spray tan. Gyms are closed, so we’re getting creative. Using the stairs in our house, getting outside and going for a walk, using random household items as props and weights  —  remembering in a flood how creative we can be when we need to be. Perhaps as a collective humanity, our need for additives from the outside to feel beautiful or whole will be curbed and altered at least a few notches back in time where we were kinder to ourselves because we didn’t have a reason not to be.

4. A crash course in being OK with change

I saw a YouTube video at some point a while back where the gentlemen talked about the lines on a heart monitor and how when they’re jumping up and down and constantly changing, it indicates the person attached is alive. When the line is flat, the person is dead. Change is in fact the only constant any of us can count on, and yet sometimes we get so wound up resisting and fighting change in hopes that we can keep things the same, keep things comfortable, etc., when really sometimes change is what sets us free from something that has been holding us back. I will say, for example, our focus in our web development agency has always been larger companies looking for large monthly maintenance retainers and high-end website builds (typically in the $60,000-$150,000 range)  —  but this experience has sounded the alarm for us on the importance of not forgetting how to pivot. We have been inspired to look at lower-cost solutions that would also allow us to serve the businesses right here in our own backyard. As soon as the government mandate came to shut down restaurant dining rooms, we began working on a low-cost, templated solution for restaurants to house their menu online and offer an easy and convenient way for customers to order for curbside pickup. Something like this is something we’ve been resistant to in the past, because it’s not our “ideal” model, but we’ve been humbly reminded that part of success in business is being agile and able to pivot to serve the current needs of the market.

5. Unity 

This is the first time in each of our lifetimes that a single event has quite literally brought the whole world together. In divisive times, on so many levels, all of a sudden we’re all in the same boat. The person you argue with about politics is dealing with this, too. The person whose religion you can’t understand is dealing with this, too. The person whose house or car you envy is dealing with this, too. Your neighbor with too many wind chimes is dealing with this, too. Your child’s teacher whose teaching style you can’t stand is dealing with this, too. The person who has a different stance from you on abortion or gun control is dealing with this, too. I don’t think there’s an example necessary for this one —  this kind of common ground and mutual experience  —  if we’re all willing to lean into it, can only bring about an enhanced level of compassion and understanding for one another so long as we collectively make the decision that that’s what we want out of all of this.

Saxon Baum, Florida Funders

Saxon Baum, Florida Funders
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. Humanity will prevail

We do not know everything about this terrible virus, but we do know that it is not harming and/or killing everyone who contracts it. I am not sure the timing of when this all will blow over, but it will, and when it does, people need to be ready to get back on the offense in every sense of the word.

2. Life must continue

Although our lives will forever be dramatically changed, life has to go on. Individuals and companies are going to adjust to working remotely, and this will become somewhat of a norm. Business will be forever changed, but out of this time of fear and uncertainty will come innovation and change that will better the world forever moving forward.

3. Slowing down is not always a bad thing

This might just be the “freeze” in the world that some people need. The world is more connected than ever and information travels faster than we could have ever imagined. People are stressed and they can never relax and take a step back. This is a perfect time to think about a reset and try things you have always wanted to get into like meditation or reading.

4. Do not be lonely

Although we can not physically be together right now, let’s make sure we are still together, virtually. Chat on the phone with friends, family and colleagues. Video call when you can to see people’s faces. Just because we are at home does not mean we can not communicate!

5. We are all in this together

Unlike many other global issues in the past such as war or economic downturn that affect different people in different ways and affect some countries and not others, this virus is affecting the world as a whole. There is one common enemy here. We need to band together as a human race to support each other and beat this thing. If we all work together and get through this together, we will come out stronger on the other side.

Achea Redd, Author of Be Free. Be You.

Achea Redd, Author of Be Free. Be You.
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. This will not last

Everything in life except change is temporary. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that change is inevitable and this too will pass.

2. This is a crisis and an opportunity

Many people will have a lot of time to sit and think. To reevaluate their path and perhaps choose a different one. I’ve heard many stories from individuals who have been through a crisis and have completely changed the direction of their careers because of it. Another opportunity it presents is helping us identify how to live more simply and not be as wasteful with our resources. We are hopefully learning the value of workers apart of the supply chain, and healthcare providers.

3. It could always be worse

A lot of our kids are being affected with their school years abruptly coming to a halt, spring break plans over, senior trips cancelled, graduations cancelled, but between 1964–1970 kids in the same age group were going to war in Vietnam for their senior trips. So as horrible as this is, we have to be grateful that all the kids are at least home with their families.

4. This is the staycation we've always wanted

I do understand that these are grim circumstances and many people are suffering but the call among us for social distancing, while somewhat inconvenient, can also be very good for getting the rest and reset we all need. This is permission to slow down because we have no other choice right now, so we might as well try our best to enjoy it. The reality is that burnout is extremely common these days, and any reset we can get is a positive.

5. Reconnecting with family

I understand that not everyone sees this as a positive, but from my vantage point, life is extremely busy and time with our immediate families isn’t something we always have, at least without something else competing for our attention. Now that the world is basically at a standstill, we all have the time to reconnect with our loved ones, with minimal distractions. All of the stuff around us is very temporary and can be lost at any moment. What really matters is family. This type of crisis helps point us all in the direction of what really matters.

Christian Schauf of Uncharted Supply Company

Christian Schauf of Uncharted Supply Company
Image credit: via Authority Magazine
  1. Yesterday, I went on a long ski tour through the mountains. It was one of the more beautiful days I’ve ever experienced in my life. I came home, turned the TV on, and the TV wanted to convince me that the world was going to end. My point: While it’s important to be informed and act appropriately, you can also find yourself buying into too much hype, and thus spooling out of control. Yes, I know this will affect many of us, but I can’t help but think of all the kids who get to spend weeks of quality time with their parents that is unprecedented. There is always a positive to focus on.

  2. We live in the greatest country in the world. We’re lucky something like this hasn’t happened in the past. And we’re lucky this isn’t common. For some, it is. I think it’s a good moment to realize how fortunate we are, and how good life typically is. If we do that, every day starts to feel more like a gift. Just think how different it will feel to meet your friends at a bar after this is all behind us, which it will be.

  3. We’re being asked to sit on our couches. Think about this. The other day, someone emailed me in a panic that they saw tanks on trains going through their neighborhood. I had to remind them that those people are on our side. They are here to protect us and help work through this. There is no invading army. There is no war on foreign soil we’re being asked to go and fight.

  4. There is always opportunity in moments like this. As an entrepreneur, I’m in constant conversation with many other entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Some find paths forward. Some pivot. Some jump immediately and do what they can to prepare. Others freeze, play the victim. Whether it’s redefining your business, getting in shape or getting college credits, there are things you can focus on at a level you may never have again.

  5. Hard times make us stronger. We will survive this, and the knowledge and experience of going through this will make us stronger the next time. There will always be another monster around the corner, and we should expect it, prepare for it and be ready to face it head-on.

Sabrina Philipp, Business Coach

Sabrina Philipp, Business Coach
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. We’re seeing the best of humanity right now.

People are seen clapping from their balconies in Europe every night and giving thanks and recognition to doctors, nurses, police workers and all others that are working so hard to keep people safe right now. Faith in humanity is being restored in the midst of chaos.

2. We’re seeing widespread appreciation for health-care workers.

This is really showing us how important healthcare workers are. They are risking their own lives to help save others instead, with masks and protective equipment in short supply. Over the long term, this will mobilize citizens to advocate for a better healthcare system across the world.

3. We’re seeing an increased sense of community throughout the world.

People are rallying together. They’re going shopping or picking up medicine for the most vulnerable, grocery stores are designating “senior-only” shopping times and neighbors are singing together from their balconies. It’s truly inspiring to see people come together.

4. Families are spending more time together.

As schools close and parents are having to work from home, families are self-isolating together. This time allows families to connect more, which they may not normally get to experience. Being able to face this frightening time with the ones you love is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

5. We are valuing human connection more than ever before.

Without the many distractions that take place throughout our “normal” lives, this time is allowing us to place value on human connection more than ever before. It’s a reminder of the extraordinary power of human connection. From live DJ sets on streaming platforms to virtual movie nights with friends on Netflix, we are determined to find creative ways to safely connect with one another. Maybe our appreciation for human interaction will have a lasting impact and help us fight the addiction most of us suffer from  —  our cell phones!

Parker Gates, co-founder of Stoked

Parker Gates, co-founder of Stoked
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. A renewed understanding of what we truly “need” to live on.

Since we’ve been quarantined, I don’t find myself buying or spending nearly as much as I typically do. There are likely lots of reasons for this. I’m rediscovering what I already have in my home that I haven’t paid attention to for a while. My wife and I live in a small home, and since we’re here 24/7, we don’t want to add more “stuff” that might rob precious space from us. And lastly, seeing so many people in a mindset of scarcity, it becomes painfully clear that I don’t need to buy it all, potentially keeping others from getting what they need.

2. A chance to really sit and be with ourselves.

The ability to just sit down occasionally and be with me has been great. Yes, it’s easy to spend our time at home looking at Instagram for four hours or binge-watching Netflix just waiting for time to pass, but I have found it fulfilling to really take time to sit and be with myself. To take notice my emotions, how my body feels and what I’m really longing for. Otherwise, I just try and fill that void with food, entertainment and constant lightweight connections like texting or social media. All of those things leaving me just slightly unsatisfied, which means I always need more of it.

3. Giving the planet a brief break.

I feel like a reduction in travel, meat consumption, dining out, and consumerism has to be good for the planet. I’m no scientist, but we’re getting reports of less pollution and less production from all over the world. I know it’s not great for the global economy, but it makes me wonder if those are things are mutually exclusive. Can we have a strong economy and a healthier planet? Either way, I think it’s good for the human race to see how the planet responds when we’re not constantly polluting it.

4. An opportunity to see what a slower life feels like.

In America, most people claim they are always “busy.” Several articles have been written about it, calling “busyness” a disease. We move from work to friends to TV to vacation to chores to school to groceries, and on and on. We constantly fill our lives to the max and have never-ending to-do lists. Finally, we have what many of us have said we’ve always wanted, time. Time to just relax and breathe. Time to connect with our loved ones (in real life or virtually). We see what it feels like to live a slower life and how that affects our moods, our bodies and our presence with each other.

5. A chance to work in different ways and improve remote team communication.

Our company has a remotely distributed team like many others. For a decade we’ve experimented with different virtual collaboration tools, and have never felt that they are as satisfying as in-person work. I think this is changing. Enough bright minds and big thinkers are now forced to utilize these tools to connect and work with others, so they are finding new hacks and creating new resources for remote work to be so much more effective and dare I say, human.

Ali Grant, Be Social

Ali Grant, Be Social
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

1. Social distancing has made us more socially connected

We are seeing social media keep everyone connected while remaining apart. Influencers have found ways to connect with their audience and make a positive impact during this trying time. For example, one of the talent clients we manage has been hosting free virtual IG live workout classes for her followers at 9am daily, and each day thousands of her followers tune in as they workout together, but apart. Others have rallied behind non-profits, started to share feel good messaging and share information/resources.

2. People are coming together to do good 

While this time has been incredibly challenging, we’ve seen so many working to make a difference. From sharing charity initiatives on social channels to brands making charitable contributions, there has been an overall lift in focusing on giving back, generosity and community-mindedness.

3. Innovation

Most of us have had to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to business during this unprecedented time. As a digital communications agency, we’ve had to really shift our strategies. In-person activations, events and pop ups have been postponed, but we’ve been finding ways to make up for this via digital interaction/engagement. Seeing the creativity and ingenuity that businesses are implementing has been inspiring.

4. Time for reflection

We’ve all had a lot of time to think. It seems like the things that are actually important are coming to light. Life will be different after this, but I think from a positive standpoint, we will all gain a new sense of compassion, appreciation and connectivity. I’m hopeful we’ll come out of this even stronger than we were when it started.

5. Picking up something new

With added downtime and a slower pace of life, I’ve started picking up on new skills. I’ve taken some interest in attempting to cook and I’ve seen friends get into music, dancing, art and photography.

William Forshaw, CEO of Maxwell-Scott

William Forshaw, CEO of Maxwell-Scott
Image credit: via Authority Magazine

I think it’s only normal that the current situation makes us all feel uneasy. It’s changing so quickly, it’s unprecedented and we are all having to adapt our daily routines in a way that we would have never even thought about before. However, I firmly believe that there is something positive in any situation. My few reasons to be hopeful during this crisis are:

  1. A new sense of community . Wherever you look, people are stepping up to support the vulnerable in their community and to support one another. It’s beautiful to see and something that we haven’t really been witnessing in recent times as we all seemed to be very self-involved. Crisis times like this break those barrieres down and remind us all that together we are strong, and that there is a community to rely on.

  2. A newfound simplicity. It feels a bit as if we are going back to the roots at the moment. With families being isolated at home, time seems to slow down. Instead of rushing in after work and having a full social calendar, this is now the time to really reconnect with your loved ones. I love the extra playtime I have with my kids at the moment, and I’ve noticed everybody seems to make an extra effort to stay connected  —  be it via phone, email or letter. The current crisis seemed to have reminded everybody how important real-life relationships are.

  3. A new way of doing things . As a business owner, my team and I have always had our marketing plan and customer communication down to a T. However, this new situation has forced us to adapt, to challenge the way we always approached things in the past and forced us to try out new things. And I’m so glad this happened. We’ve developed a new way of speaking to our Maxwell-Scott community; we’ve become more personal on social media, and we’ve just generally opened up more. Thankfully, that seems to be something that really works  —  and, personally, I would have been hesitant to try to this extent if times were normal.

  4. Millions of pets are loving it . If you are working from home right now, and everything seems a bit much, remember this one thing: House pets are currently loving all the extra attention. My team is working remotely, too, and every morning we have a company Skype conference. The amount of happy dogs, cats and even bunnies that are seen in the background of that is just adorable and lifts everybody’s spirits. I have two dogs myself, and they have been loving all the extra attention. Their tails have not stopped wagging.

  5. Finally, there really is light at the end of the tunnel . This will pass. Recent news from Wuhan, the former epicentre of the outbreak. are showing us that the virus spread can be stopped and things can return back to normal. Their local government is looking into lifting the restrictions and lots of industry workers have already been able to resume production. I’m hoping that we have a similar experience in a few weeks or months.

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