2020 has caught everyone by surprise. First, the coronavirus emerged and China was taking swift action in shutting down cities but the world was paying little attention. Then the virus spread and the global economy ground to a halt. Now we are all scrambling to adjust ourselves to the new reality that is mixed with fear and anxiety.
It might be easy to surrender ourselves to the overwhelming news and the uncertainties to the future. But if history is of any guide to us, we know that major crises are usually filled with mega opportunities, and that things will return to normal one day.
But for now, enter social distancing.
You have nowhere to go but to stay at home, with yourself. And our minds are not used to that. We were used to grabbing morning coffee with our friends, chatting with the coworkers during the day, and cuddling with the loved ones at night. And now, suddenly, we stare at the mirror and the mirror stares back. We are by ourselves.
Even though I still fill my schedule with back-to-back conference calls but it's just not the same. Somewhere inside me keeps asking me the question: so what truly matters to you.
The COVID19 outbreak provided us the opportunity to take a pause and re-evaluate our priorities. I had the chance to think about several issues in life since I had been working from home for the last week. To remind my future self on what is important and what is not, I want to compose them here:
Health and families come number one.
Without health and families, the future does not matter. Early this year, I already lost my grandma and I certainly want to see myself and my families stay healthy.
Helping others matters.
It takes courage to go beyond our egocentric selves and to care for others. In the past, it was easy to brush it away by simply saying that I was too busy but during this crisis, witnessing countless medical professionals and volunteers stepping up had a significant impact on me. We all need other people's help one day. It's all for one and one for all.
Humanity as one.
In a crisis, it's easy for us to turn against each other out of fear and hatred, but let's resist that. The world does not need one or two politicians to lead us. But instead, all of us can start from within to calm the fear and start to embrace the uncertainties.
As a human race, we have to reckon the damages we have done to the environment, other animals and the earth. As we all become adults, we have long put aside our childhood ambitions to become astronauts or to save the earth. But maybe it's time we all pick it up.
Do your job, but with a bigger goal.
Each of us has a role to play in this society. The once-in-a-century crisis offered us the opportunity to examine our contribution to the world and, once again re-appreciate the things we take for granted. Many restaurants we visit are now closed. The over-talkative barber who we once felt overwhelming is now much missed. The noisy bars across the street are not filled with dreadful emptiness.
As a generation who grew up without the Great Depression or severe property, we think the world is always up-to-the-right, with many services available to us, just one click away. The so-far weeks-long social distancing teaches us the lesson of valuing other people's work and rethinking of our own.
I hope when the whole thing is over, we come out of the other end much stronger. Much more energized in building the common future. I certainly am. I know that after the pandemic passes, the world will be the same, but yet not the same.
It is often said that crises are embedded with opportunities. I'm a true believer in that. As a VC, in a way as a societal resource allocator, I will be even more excited to find the next opportunities with resilient founders.
Our world economy mirrors nature. New species and vibrant ecosystems only emerge after a devastating storm. We are in the midst of that. I'm worried as anybody else, but I'm ever optimistic about the future.