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Once we're in it, how do we exit?

covid entry exit Apr 29, 2020

After returning from a 16-day hike of the Larapinta trail in 2017, I swore I would never take a hot shower for granted again.

Of course I did, because taking things for granted is our default.

We take for granted people, possessions, freedom (if we have it) and that the sun will rise tomorrow. Three weeks ago, I treasured each square of toilet paper. Now I barely think about it.

When we stop, though, we find ourselves in awe of sunrise. Of our freedom. Of our loved ones.

But it’s fleeting, this ability to stop.

Covid-19 has paused the world and stripped us of all that we could take for granted.

For those lucky enough, it's given us a rare opportunity for reflection and gratitude.

That’s what I find so interesting; this tension between taking things for granted and moments when we don’t. And it’s throwing up some uncomfortable feelings.

You see, some of us are mourning the end of lockdown. We are scared about things going back to ‘normal’. I’m aware this is an enormously privileged thing to say, by the way, but I wanted to give voice to it.

Some of us are worried if things don’t go back to normal.

Some of us are worried if things do.

I’m hearing people question, for instance:

  • What if all the heartache, suffering, fear and disruption have been for nothing?
  • What if I go back to work and old habits reassert themselves?
  • What if I have changed but the systems I work and live in, haven’t?
  • What if I take everything for granted again?

If you need reassurance, know that it’s okay to be thinking like this. We’re in the midst of the modern world’s biggest change and all of life’s contradictions are writ large.


As we shift our attention from lockdown to re-entry, I’ve been thinking about how best to do this. Is it better to have a gradual, phased re-entry, or should it be abrupt and unequivocal?

This doesn’t only apply to Covid-19. Any “event” that you are managing people through, say a price change or staff policy, requires we about how to enter the change and exit the change. How you move from the old status quo, to the new status quo.

Sharp entries and exits have the advantage of clarity but sacrifice people’s ability to adapt.

Gradual entries and exits give people time to adapt, but risk confusion and a perpetual state of uncertainty.

I personally think certainty is the priority, because even when the news is bad, it means people can move ahead. Tell me my plane is cancelled, for example, don’t keep telling me it has been delayed.

I’ve recorded this video which explains my thinking, as well as showcases my mastery of pipe cleaners.


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