A report just released in the UK with a warning will I’m sure get many thinking there is no end to the pandemic. The report makes it clear there is a high degree of uncertainty in the projected death figures stating it is not a prediction of what will happen, rather what might.
The news is not good, and we could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths in a second wave of infections this winter. Asked to model a “reasonable” worst-case scenario, the scientists suggest a range between 24,500 and 251,000 of virus-related deaths in hospitals alone.
So far into this pandemic there have been 44,830 official coronavirus UK deaths but there is a wide disparity in coronavirus mortality rates in English hospitals. One hospital in south-west England had a death rate from the disease of 80 per cent while in one London hospital it was just 12.5pc.
Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, said, “We know that poorer black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have a higher risk of mortality, so if a hospital is in an area of higher-risk individuals you would expect that Covid related mortality rate to be higher.”
I am concerned with mental health and how we all stay positive with not just the impact of the virus but the fact there is no end in sight. This got me thinking about a story I used at work to help explain what is needed during long periods of adversity.
I used the tools recommended in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great and our situation today reminded me of the story he shared about James Stockdale, who, during the Vietnam War, was held captive as a prisoner of war for over seven years.
During this horrific period, Stockdale was repeatedly tortured and had no reason to believe he’d make it out alive. He came to terms with his grim reality of this hell world, he found a way to stay alive by embracing both the harshness of his situation and a balance of healthy optimism.
Stockdale explained his idea as the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Stockdale survived by hoping for the best but acknowledging and preparing for the worst. His ability to acknowledge his situation and balance optimism with realism led him through those trying years.
In the book Stockdale speaks about how the optimists fared in camp. When asked who didn’t make it, he said, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists they were the ones who said we’re going to be out by Christmas and Christmas would come and go. Then they’d say we’re going to be out by Easter and Easter would come and go. Then Thanksgiving and then it would be Christmas again. They all died of a broken heart.”
During my sharing of this story I always talked about facing up to ‘Our Brutal reality’ and by doing so do what has to be done to get thorough to the other end. Stay strong and don’t tell yourself lies thinking that you can somehow wish away reality.
Don’t be dumb and do what you are told to survive and protect your family.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at [email protected]