These were the famous words of Franklyn. D. Roosevelt in 1933. He commented:
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigour has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
At the time he was talking about the causes of the 1930s economic crisis. Clearly, today’s crisis is different but the same is true today. In this dark hour, there needs to be both greater frankness and energy combined with understanding and support to find the best road forward.
It is interesting that in the last few days there has been new talk of a second spike and there is a genuine danger that the UK does create its own paralysis of fear. In order to get business moving again, then there is a need for people to take calculated risk in order to get daily life ticking over again. There are many reports from employers talking of how their people want to continue to work from home and not return to the office. Work patterns will undoubtedly change but somehow it is important to ensure that many do start to travel back into the major cities and for life to start resuming.
It will happen in time, one way or another – but the sooner it does happen, the quicker the economy can recover and a normal life resume. During the lockdown, many have rediscovered communities, kindness and rediscovered some lost values. Both companies and employees will need to be ready to adapt and change. Companies will need to be far better in how they communicate and engage with employees; in the values that they do hold true. It is logical that as communities have once again become important, so there will be a stronger social and cultural agenda emerge.
For hospitality, this could be a real opportunity and it can help re-engage lost custom. City centres may need to change too over time. Company offices too. It will be important for all to think more broadly and openly and in time a strong recovery can be achieved. Safety is rightly of real importance but fear and an aversion to risk could risk more job losses, more failures, more sadness. Risk is part of daily life. It is one of the contradictions that as the world has become increasingly safe so more are risk-averse.
It is a dark time but so important that fear does not make it worse. Out of this can come a lot of good, including stronger communities, stronger cultures within the business, more kindness and understanding, greater inclusion and progressiveness. However, it needs to start with energy to rebuild.