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News   June 9, 2020   by Allan Janssen

COMMENTARY: Who are you in a crisis?

Adversity on this scale tends to bring out our essential natures.

By Allan Janssen

I don’t think I’m one to overreact in a crisis, but I am taking this one very seriously. Or trying to. There are occasional breaches in my defenses, but they are largely unavoidable and brief. Some of them are calculated risks.

Everyone is making their own assessments about risk factors… and they’re not only health-related. They are also business-related.

It seems crass to consider the metaphorical health of a business when the literal health of millions of people around the world is under threat. But as humans we appear to be programmed to consider our futures. And our futures increasingly hinge on finances. So here we are, balancing the health of society and the health of the economy. We’re almost certain to get it wrong in many small and significant ways. And given that there are some polar opposite strategies in use around the globe, some countries are going to hurt much more than others when this is all said and done

They say adversity brings out the best in people. I’ve found it brings the archetypes out in people. We drop the pretenses and revert to our essential natures.

Here are the people I’ve identified in my own life and in the news:

The Know-It-All. You can’t have a conversation with this guy without being made to feel stupid. They may not have all the facts, but they certainly sound like they do.

The Denier. Compared to this guy, you’re a genius! He thinks this is just a bad flu year.

The Over-Achiever. My nominee is my brother who overnight changed the model of his sit-down restaurant into a secure and sanitary walk-up take-out kiosk.

The Hapless Leader. The politician who misinterprets situations and makes a mess of public policy. I know you have your own candidates for this role because you send me your nominations almost every day! The candidates for biggest buffoon span all political stripes and nationalities.

The Hysteric. Talking this one down off the ledge is a full-time job. Try not to call right after the evening news report!

The Hoarder. Going well beyond mere self-preservation, this miserable jerk puts society at even further risk by creating localized shortages on hand sanitizer and face masks. He deserves every bit of social scorn he receives.

The Hero. By contrast, this is the person who puts everything on the line for society, becoming an example of what we should all be doing.

I could go on and on, identifying other archetypes. You might have observed a few that I haven’t. The point here is to figure out who you truly are in a crisis. Adversity like this reveals the kind of person you are at the heart of things. And while you can’t change your essential nature, you can surely fight against your baser instincts.

Take a lesson from those who are rising to the challenge. Avoid the pitfalls of hysteria and denial. This crisis could go on for many months.

Here’s hoping we all tap into previously unknown reserves of kindness and selflessness.


Let me know how you’re getting through this. You can reach me at


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