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Humans, not experts, must emerge after lockdown


Dear Lloyd,
It’s been weeks since the enhanced community quarantine has been implemented. Life has become boring here at home. I do try to continue learning from home but honestly, nothing goes inside my head. In short, I’m not learning anything despite having more time to study. How do you think I should during this lockdown situation?

Boredom — it’s precisely what many of us may already be complaining about at this point. Before this coronavirus crisis, we all wanted more time to rest. Now that we have been given more time at home, we seem to not like it at all. We are almost running out of to-dos at home. The idea of an extended enhanced community quarantine doesn’t sit so well with us.

Last week, I put forward my argument that productivity in a crisis is a dangerous lie. I argued, “No one in survival mode will think about being productive anyway. Survive now; be productive later.”


JK Rowling seems to think the same way. She tweeted, “If you’re a ‘life coach’ who’s on here implying people are losers if they aren’t learning a new skill/building a brand while on lockdown, maybe stop. People have challenges you know nothing about. Sometimes getting through something is more than enough.”

This stay-at-home policy is now a global trend. When it finally happened, we responded differently. One reaction was for “a leader or an expert to force the people to be productive at home and learn a new thing or two.” The so-called experts rushed to the internet to do live video streaming to deliver life-saving lectures. Some of these are useful; many are not.

While I believe some can learn a few things these days, I also think this lockdown isn’t the best time for us to produce experts or re-tool our people — at least not yet, not at this stage. Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on our humanity.

On the rise are online webinars on selling, marketing, leadership, business continuity and management, among many other topics — all titles ending with “in times of crisis.” But I feel there’s something more important than those theoretical topics.

What does it mean to sell today? No one is buying. How do we execute our marketing strategy? No one cares. How do we lead people when we can’t even see them? Everyone is at home. What does it mean to continue a business that has lost everything? There’s nothing to start with. How do we manage our organization now? Only a few people report to the office.

So, instead of teaching our people theories and skills, I guess it’s wiser to teach them the basics of humanity — values, character, attitude; what matters to us and what gives our lives meaning. For organizations and the academe most especially, let’s revisit our vision, mission, goals and objectives. For students, let’s talk about the reason you’re in school and why you’re taking your course.

Before the quarantine, we neglected these intangibles. We favored profits over people, achievements over values, material possessions over character. But now that we are all inside our houses, many have lost their relevance.

The position you hold in office, the type of car you drive, the bag you carry around, the restaurant where you always dine, the suit you wear, the briefcase you carry — none of these matter now. Rich or poor, we all stay home. But your philosophy, your values, your character, your attitude — all these still hold true today. You display and use them now to survive, and they will all come in handy when this crisis is finally over.

Maybe this crisis calls us to be reflective, not reactive. The so-called experts must stop playing the role of a savior — a god who knows everything that’s going on. We are all first-timers here. We learn to survive together. Let’s help the people find time to reflect on what really matters to them. Let’s not give them new tools or skills or expertise for now. We can do this later. Instead, let’s help them see the beauty of our humanity. Humanity first, profitability later. Let’s not teach them to be experts; let’s teach them to be human. Maybe it’s the only way we can get through this time of trial.

Lloyd Luna, RSP, is the first registered speaking professional in the Philippines. He is a motivational speaker on leadership and best-selling author of Stepback: The Lost Art of Filipino Leadership. He is the chief executive officer of Stepback, a leadership and culture development company that helps leaders and organizations see the bigger picture in life and at work. Visit his website www.stepback.ph or email him at lloyd@stepback.ph.


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