The reality of COVID-19 and the future
The reality of COVID–19 pandemic has presented us with the fact that changes will be required to thrive in the near future. In one of my “Mind Transformation” Instagram Live Sessions, I hosted Zeal Akaraiwe, an Actuary and CEO of Graeme Blaque Group to discuss this. This article consists of excerpts from the session.
Early in 2014, the concept of the Sixth Global Extinction began to gain some kind of prominence. A number of works including best-selling author, Dan Browns novel, “Inferno” speculated that the Sixth Global Extinction, like the other ones before it (the black plague, the Spanish flu, etc) was going to be some kind of virus or bioengineered life form and almost every one – myself inclusive – thought these speculations were just the creation of highly imaginative minds. I mean who loves catastrophizing? We couldn’t allow ourselves believe that such a thing was possible, let alone that the possibility will become a reality in our own lifetime.
But alas, here we are. Living through one of the worst nightmares of the 21st century. The entire world has been in lockdown and we are not even sure of when we will be fully back on the streets again.
It happened like they said it would, even if the details seem different. I don’t know if the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as a global extinction but as we all know; it is global in its impact. It may not kill as much as the black plague did –but is it safe to say we are living through another global extinction?
Whatever we may agree to think, one fact remains: Life as we know it has changed completely.
We may not feel it yet because we are still going through the pains of the pandemic – more like the birth pangs – but when this whole thing boils down, be sure that would wake up to a whole new world.
COVID-19 will change a lot of habits. It is a massive trigger with global life altering ramifications. It will introduce whole new sets of behaviors, paradigms, mindset, skillsets and toolsets.
Remember the guy that had a bomb strapped to his shoes and was caught on the airplane? What that did was create a new industry within the airports with the introduction of security equipment like scanners for immigration as a result of that. That single event introduced a whole new dimension to air travel.
The one thing that makes the COVID-19 pandemic different from every other one we have experienced in the past is the velocity of news. In 2009 there was the SARS pandemic that affected millions of people globally. It was rather tame because the news did not carry it as fast and as far. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the velocity of news increased exponentially. In a couple of months from December 2019 to March 2020, over 100,000 people had died. This is the number of deaths resulting from malaria in a day. It seems worse in this case because of the velocity of news, and we may not know the true impact of that until three – four years after.
So how do we prepare for the post COVID-19 era? To answer that, I’ll like to take an anecdote from the Bible. The story of the 10 virgins. Although the story classified the virgins as five wise and five foolish virgins, the truth is, they were all virgins. The reason for the classification was that the wise anticipated, they made preparation before the event itself happened. The foolish did same things by preparing but the wise anticipated and prepared extra while the foolish took just enough to last – they took the norm. It was the extra that distinguished the wise ones. They anticipated a twist in events; they prepared and positioned to profit the most even with the twist.
That exactly is what we will need to do if we will be positioned to thrive in the post-COVID-19 era. We need to reinvent ourselves in line with the demands that this dispensation will place on us – the knowledge demands, the skillset demands, the mindset demands, etc. While many are shutting down and trying to hide away, those who would thrive will need to continually look at the horizon and make the needed internal and external adjustments. If we don’t do this, we may have to struggle greatly when we emerge out of the pandemic.
Without alluding to the controversies on the airwaves, I will be using 5G to talk about how we need to prepare for what’s coming. By 5G, I mean 5 Generations.
• 1st generation- telecommunications brought about 1G phones.
• 2nd generation- telecommunication brought about 2G phones, wireless with limited pictures.
• 3rd generation- brought about 3G, which allowed broadband.
• 4th generation- broadband and integrated telecommunication and payments.
We evolve as humans. And we are moving into the next level of our socioeconomic evolution with the 5G – 5th generation technological advancement. It’s going to allow the integration of everything we have done on the Internet with humanity, thereby moving into artificial intelligence/robotics.
The 4G doesn’t have the band-with to integrate with the robotics but the 5G has that capacity. As we emerge into this new era, economies and companies will go under. There will be some form of reordering among the nations.
COVID-19 may not be the cause but it is a trigger; triggering new thinking, balance and equality. It is changing the format for education, for business and even for governance. As Africans, we are standing at the very precipice of time. It is more like we are at an inflection point – we either skill up and rise or we stay same and sink.
The technologies that will hit the market inside this decade and the next will change everything, as we know it. Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, robotics and the likes will re-order life as we know it. Some jobs will so extinct so suddenly that professionals in those fields would not have had enough time prepare for any form of transition. Again, I sound a warning; if you are going to survive what is coming, look to the horizon, future pace, find out what is going to happen in your sector, field or industry and prepare to change with events. People are going to have to be flexible in their moral standards and the more flexible you are, the quicker the opportunity. If you think a woman cannot be your boss, in the new dispensation you might not get a job.
Coaching will come up because social distancing will be the new norm; and coaching and therapy will help teach people know how to interact anew and better. Because of the new social distance norm, a lot of mental illnesses will emerge.
COVID-19 is a trigger that would make people think of how to make sure we manage these challenges, before they create a second wave of catastrophe.
We should begin to draw up models for social interactions.
Our learning system needs to integrate innovation and creativity. One of the skills requisite for surviving this era, according to World Economic Forum is Emotional Intelligence. This skill will help people process thoughts with emotions and then make better decisions. We need to be able to anticipate and create analytical problem-solving skills according to the world economic forum; we need active minds and sound judgement. For us to compete with machines, we must be able to think fast.
Africa must understand that the world is solving its own problem and doesn’t have time to be sending aids. Everybody we are asking for aids now is going through the pangs of the pandemic. There is not enough for even the wealthiest nations to deal with this.
Africa cannot afford to be waiting for the West to help us or provide solutions; we need Interpersonal and Relationship skills. We need Leadership skills; we need to be able to Self-Lead. We need to develop our Human Resource, build infrastructures and institutions for the future. And we need to do it fast! We need to, as a matter of urgency, start investing in the next generation.
Watch the repeat of this conversation on my IGTV on Instagram @lanreolusola.
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