Surprise but no Shock

As we enter Lockdown 2.0 we are at least all much better prepared than we were in March when we entered Lockdown 1.0 and went into the total unknown. We are better prepared this time because we have all learned so much already this year about living and working during a pandemic and we take those lessons learned into the second lockdown.

In addition, the spreading of the coronavirus, how infectious it is, what the actual symptoms are, and how best to react to it were all new to everyone and so it all came as a real shock to governments, people, and businesses. And the three month lockdown, and the damage that that caused to so many businesses, was an even larger shock. Whilst Lockdown 2.0 certainly came as a surprise, as the Government had said that it was doing all that it could to avoid having to go down that route, it should certainly not have been a shock to anyone.

In truth, this time round the lockdown has much softer edges in so many ways than first time round, as it is simply not possible to allow such damage to businesses, and such massive increases in public debt to keep reoccurring to the same extent as it did in the spring. Whatever this government, or any other government, will do will always be criticized by one group of people or the other – such are the times we live in in 2020. And, of course, everyone, including the governments and the scientists, are still learning.

The difference between a surprise and a shock is, of course, one of degree. A surprise is unexpected but softer, and it can as easily be good news as bad. A shock, however, is totally unexpected, and is typically greater in severity and normally bad news.

The more we learn, the more able we are to cope with the little surprises and even the bigger shocks that come our way. And this in turn means that we can react more quickly, and with more varied and better solutions, which in turn gives us more protection and, in so doing, a much better chance of survival.  As with everything in life, we might learn the theory at school, or even business school, but there is no better way of learning anything than with real hands on experience.

Theory lessons can teach you how to run a business in normal circumstances and how to cope with all the normal obstacles and challenges that you would be expected to come across in a usual year. But 2020 is far from usual. Theory lessons cannot teach about unknown surprises, and certainly not the bigger shocks, as these are, by very definition, unpredictable, not just in their timing but also in their very nature. Or, as someone once said, ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ and this year has certainly shown that. It is not until these things actually happen that each of us must draw upon our accumulated skills and previous knowledge and apply all of those lessons to help us decide upon the best actions to take.

So yet again we should look positively on 2020 and be thankful for the lessons that it has already taught us. Thinking again of the old adage that if something doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger, then there have been many things already in 2020 to make us stronger. These lessons, and our greater strength, means that as time goes by we are ever better placed to deal with surprises, and even shocks, in the rest of 2020 and into the future.


in British English


to prosper or cause to prosper vigorously and rapidly