Get Ready: The World is About to Need You.

The Pandemic and Stoic Leadership

Doug Casey’s Note: Matt Smith is a friend of many years now. A first rate businessman and general stand-up guy. I’ve found we think very much alike on almost everything. It was only last week we were discussing (by phone, since I’m currently in Uruguay), what the consequences of “The Virus” might be.

What follows is excellent advice. And we’re just starting to see the secondary and tertiary knock-on effects of this hysteria…

By Matt Smith

We could have done better preparing. We could have responded quicker, communicated better, and pointed fingers less.

None of that matters now.

We need to put that behind and focus on the coming weeks and months. Hopefully you’ve taken some action to physically prepare yourself.

Now it’s time to get your head on straight. You need to get mentally ready for what’s coming.

The stoic philosopher Epictetus encourages us to use negative visualization to mentally prepare ourselves for the hardships in life. Focusing on the negative goes against our “living your best life” culture. But, it works.

And it’s a tool you’re going to need.

By negatively visualizing the worst outcomes, you prepare yourself to stand up when the world needs you.

The Hardships We Must Face

So let’s focus on some of those negative things for a moment. To some degree, these things will impact your life. There’s no way out. There is only through.

  • You’ll be spending a lot of time at home. It’ll be voluntary at first, but could become mandatory. People in Wuhan are just starting to get out after being cooped up in forced home confinement for the last 7 weeks.
  • Schools closed. If you have kids this will create a real burden for you. You might not be able to work. Childcare will be unavailable. Schools won’t be set up for remote education. Your kids will need structure.
  • Events cancelled. Already one of my family members cancelled a wedding. Another, planned for May (sorry Samantha) will likely be cancelled too. Vacations and travel plans nixed. Unpleasant and expensive and disappointing, I know.
  • You may get sick. You may even die. Most people I know don’t worry about getting sick. They’re relatively fit and, like all humans, think it won’t happen to them. It might. The median age of death so far is 65, but that means there are just as many people YOUNGER than 65 who died as there are older than 65. And death isn’t the only problem. If you get sick and survive, you could be sick for weeks. Knocked out of commission and unable to help those around you when they might need you most.
  • People you love will get sick. Some will die well ahead of their time. Hopefully, we can slow it down. But again, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for what we must contend with. Reasonable estimates are that 40-60% of the US population will acquire the disease. Of those, 1% of those will die. By that estimate the US will have 1,334,184 deaths.
  • People will behave badly. We’ve seen people fighting over things that aren’t critical already; things like toilet paper. So you can imagine what will happen when people can’t get things they desperately need. It will happen. But, it won’t be that common. More often you’ll see people coming out of the shadows to help. Be one of those people.
  • Supply Chain disruption Weeks from now we won’t have access to the things that have always been cheap and abundant. Antibiotics are a great example. It’s impossible to overstate the life saving benefit antibiotics have delivered to humanity. Today, 95% of antibiotics are made in China. The manufacturers have been shut down since late January. Even if the factories start producing at 100% today, there will be a short term shortage.
  • Economy will enter a recession. I’m not an economist, but it’s reasonable to think Global GDP could shrink by 10% this year. Ask yourself this – “Do you know anyone who couldn’t cut their monthly spending by 10% and not really notice?” I don’t. Tourism makes up 1/10th of Global GDP. It’s going to near zero for a while. Energy consumption is way down and cheap oil won’t drive new demand for a while. Consumer spending habits will fundamentally change. We don’t need more stuff and this tragedy will make that very clear. We can skip an iPhone upgrade this year, can’t we? We will. And economic activity will grind to a halt.
  • Income will take a hit. People will lose their jobs. Household income will shrink. The government will print money and it will soften the blow in the short term. In exchange, the long term will be sacrificed once again. More unpayable debt. More debasement of the currency.
  • Borders will close. We’ve seen this already, but it’ll increase in the coming days.
  • International cooperation falls and tensions rise. Heads of state will seek scapegoats to redirect blame for the suffering of their people. We see this now with Chinese Foreign Minister blaming the US ARMY for the coronavirus. The narrative war will grow from here. If we’re not careful, it could escalate into more than rhetoric.

So that’s the bad news. Or at least part of it. This sucks. But, this is where we are.

The stoics tell us that we should sit and visualize the specific negative outcomes. We should imagine the details. Imagine your mother doesn’t make it. Imagine your son must grow up without her father. Imagine, you lose your job or your once thriving business is erased from existence.

Seeing the worst doesn’t mean you’re resigning your fate to it. In fact, it’s the opposite. By seeing the worst, you won’t bury your head in the sand need to run from it in fear.

Everyone I know wants their life to mean something. This is our chance. It’s not like we imagined, but it’s here in front of us.

Get ready. The world is about to need you.

To find more information from Matt Smith click here.

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