No Answers, Just Thoughts and Questions

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 18, Issue No. 12a
April 1, 2020

By Dan Coughlin


Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a steady stream of articles providing answers on how to behave in a crisis. Article after article on how to lead, how to sell, how to build a team, how to manage, and how to survive and thrive in a world-wide crisis.

In this article I’m providing no answers, only thoughts and questions.

Thought #1: A Remarkably High Respect for the Importance of Every Human Life

As gosh awful as the impact of the coronavirus and Covid-19 have been on the world, it has brought out one remarkable reality: human beings care deeply about human life. Vast numbers of people are staying in homes, apartments, and buildings by themselves and in very small groups because they care about other human beings. By staying six feet apart and in small groups, each person is sending out an almost invisible statement about respecting the lives and health of other human beings.

If we extrapolate this idea over the next decade, this could turn out to be an absolutely remarkable impact in human history. Imagine this level of respecting human life regardless of the other human being’s gender, race, height, personality type, title, income, industry, role, age, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, world view, political party, or any other label. Imagine this level of respect for every human life around the world.

This one thing, valuing human life at a remarkably high level, could be a mind-boggling inflection point in human history if we can sustain the focus on it. Imagine the impact on our behaviors over the next ten years if we truly value every human life.

Thought #2: The Incredible Connectedness of Every Human Being

The coronavirus has made it very, very, very clear that humans are connected around the world in three clear ways: communication, the economy, and health.

A person makes a statement, and that statement is heard around the world in minutes.

An economy is a fairly straightforward thing to understand, at least I think so. People want or need value. Other people create the value that they want or need. The first group pays the second group for that value. And the more often that happens, the more an economy grows. And the less it happens, the more an economy shrinks. When the economic engine slows down, the only way to pour gas into it and stimulate the economy is to borrow money and put it back into people’s hands so they can spend it again. Of course, eventually somehow that money has to be paid back. We can either try to operate in a much smaller and slower economy, or we can borrow from the future to improve the present. Of course, if we are not careful, we can damage the future to try to preserve the present.

Health is the ability to function in an effective way. A deadly virus can spread quickly from person to person to person around the world, unless we stay away from each other.

The decisions we make impact not only our lives, but the lives of other humans in this world-wide connected chain. We need to communicate effectively. We need an effective economy. But more than anything we need to be physically healthy in order to communicate and function effectively within our economy. To be effective in all three areas is the great challenge in front of all of us.

Thought #3: Business is Built on Human Relationships

A business is based on trusting relationships. I have to trust that the value you are promising to deliver is what I will actually get. I have to trust that you will deliver that value in a way that is healthy for me.

What can you do in your work to create and add value to other people in a way that is healthy for both of you? Great innovations come from solving difficult puzzles. This coronavirus will eventually produce game-changing innovations in practically every industry. People will be forced to see opportunities for creating and delivering value in ways they didn’t see in the past.

Keep in mind at its most basic level a business is the exchange of value between people who trust each other. What can you do to increase the trust people have in you and your organization? Could you be more empathetic, more focused, and more understanding of what they really want and/or need?

Thought #4: The Importance of Executing the Fundamentals of Your Business

The coronavirus did not change the fundamentals of your business. It might change some of your systems or approaches or operations, but you still have the fundamentals of a business, which include:

  1. Why does your business exist?
  2. What are the key objectives you are trying to achieve?
  3. What are the values you want guiding behaviors in your business?
  4. What is the essential value you provide to your customers?
  5. How can you create that value?
  6. How can you deliver that value effectively?
  7. How can you let people know that they can gain that value from you?
  8. How can you improve the value that you offer to people?

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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