The following article was written expressly for the May issue of Flame. To read articles written by other Lake Norman Business and Community Leaders visit: https://bit.ly/2zxxktD
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “In every individual’s life, comes that special moment when he or she will be called upon to do something great, and what a tragedy it would be, if at that moment, they were unprepared for the task.”
Growing up as a boy, I would spend weekends with my grandparents. On a Saturday night after supper, Granddaddy Russell and I would sit on the backdoor steps where he would polish his shoes. He always wanted to look his best for Church the next morning.
I still recall one evening when he asked, “Billy, have you got those shoes shined up for church tomorrow?” I recall answering that my shoes were still shined from the week before.
Not one to be deterred, Granddaddy examined my shoes, gave me a stern look, and simply handed me the brush and polish. Granddaddy would sometimes spit on his shoes as he polished them to bring them to a high luster. And I would spit on my shoes as well, because that’s what granddaddy did.
Afterwards we would retire to the dining room table to do our “lessons.” That’s what he called reading and studying the bible passages we would review the next day in Sunday School. I would have much rather watched television, but granddaddy said we had to study for church. “But why do we have to read all that?” I would ask. “We’ll be reading it again tomorrow.” He would point out. “You need to be prepared.”
As I write this column, we are three weeks into a “Stay at Home” order imposed by Mecklenburg Country and the State as we wrestle with the physical and economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The illness has already claimed thousands of lives here in America and could rage on for weeks to come.
I am not sure anyone in the world foresaw the severity of this outbreak and there is no question our federal and state agencies were unprepared. As grave as this issue may be, I do believe we can emerge from it a much better community and nation.
Few of us will ever face a crisis as dire as this event unfolding before us. While the community, country and world are filled with anxiety and fear, there are many who are emerging as leaders. Not just the healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines, but everyday Americans looking to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s as simple as donating to a cause or delivering food and other essentials to those in need, our community is pulling together!
This temporary pause also gives each of us time to reflect on what is important not only in our business but in our personal lives. Each of us can use this time to reprioritize goals and set new objectives. A great many of us have discovered new technologies to communicate with clients and friends which we not have previously utilized.
But the biggest opportunity may be the opportunity to be the person you can be after the pandemic and not the person you were going to be.
As a little boy, I could not have imagined that a virus could single handedly stop the American economy and hold our nation hostage. But perhaps this is the moment in time Sir Winston Churchill spoke about. An opportunity when we are called upon to be our absolute best – and a time when we dare not fail in that task.
W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE, IOM
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce