Last month upon the release of our first booklet in our new series 20/20 Prudent Leadership we said, "The local, regional, and geo-political events of the blossoming 2020 Decade loom prominently but are largely unknown." We knew the onset of a new decade would present many unknown challenges...
But at press time, we were unaware of the full destructive power of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) tsunami that would in a matter of weeks swell to pandemic proportions causing death, hardship, and a Global Financial Crisis (GFC) the likes of which we have not seen since the 2008 GFC and The Great Depression of the 1930s. From China and the Far East, through Asia, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, to Russia, Europe, Israel, Africa, Australia, and South America, no part of our planet was speared its wrath, except Antarctica. Our world has forever changed. And so, the paradigm of The Three Cs: Conversation, Conduct, and Character, for which this installment was predicated upon is more important than ever. For this installment is now punctuated with a Fourth C, the CO for corona, VI for virus, and D for Disease, COVID-19 (CDC, 2020)! As recently as April 10th, United States President Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as he had several times before, as the 'invisible enemy' (Whitehouse.gov, 2020, para 4). And while the origins of COVID-19 can be traced back to China, as of this moment, the crisis is exacerbated by whether it was a natural phenomenon or created in a laboratory. Theodore Roosevelt (TR) dealt with natural invisible enemies particularly malaria and yellow fever. These destructive diseases could engulf otherwise healthy American troops as well as those serving on ships overseas.
It is ironic that in March 2020 the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of his duties via Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, because Crozier wrote a letter about concerns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 aboard the ship was leaked and published in San Francisco Chronicle. The result embarrassed high-ranking officials who were criticized as an, “unresponsive chain of command” (Carroll, 2020, para 3). But the letter prompted action that helped save lives. The leaky communication whether by design or purpose may have been a self-leadership risk the ship’s namesake Theodore Roosevelt might also have followed according to retired U.S. Navy Commander Ward Carroll (Carroll, 2020). Thus, this anecdote is an ideal example of Conversation, Conduct, and Character, in action. Not only was COVID-19 a catalyst that will surely test The Three Cs among millions of people for months and years to come, but it shifts our conversation to an underlying character trait that prudence is based on ─ authenticity. We can say that Crozier was authentic in authoring his letter of concern. But Crozier was fired because the embarrassing lifesaving letter leaked. Some would say that if purposefully leaked, Crozier portrayed a Wolf in sheep’s clothing, an idiom that has for centuries been enumerated in fables and stories. While the Bible states, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), in Crozier’s case, his character was least likely to be the wolf, as much as he tried to be a sheep.
Throughout this 2nd booklet in the nine-book series, we refer to wolves, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Tail of Two Wolves, The Wolf of Wallstreet, for example. We remember the wolves that TR had to tame when on April 25th, 1898 he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (a.k.a. The Rough Riders). Today, we can all consider ourselves appointed. We are appointed to the response and aftermath of the COVID-19 regiment. As politicians, schools, and corporations move towards removing the current Shelter in Place orders that have kept people from socializing, the invisible enemy will likely be among us for years to come. How authentic will your self-leadership be in the crucial weeks and months ahead? As we said in the inaugural booklet, “One person’s prudence can be another person’s provocation” (Migliore & Bean, 2020, p. 2). We have been told that we must wear a mask and that we can no longer congregate in tight spaces. We may be tested for the virus anti-bodies or we may have our temperature taken at any number of establishments or we may have to subscribe to a tracking device to assess our health. How will you adapt to such abrasive measures?
We stand poised to experience a new type of freedom, but one based solely on our ability to be healthy ─ physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All the while, however, we must continue to assess the risk of every self-leadership decision we make for ourselves, our significant others, and for the humanity of those around us. Indeed, we have entered new and unchartered territory. Although TR chartered the many unknowns of his first African Safari and then later was invited by Brazilian government to co-lead expedition with Colonel Candido Rondon to map the River of Doubt deep in the Amazon, he never faced a 21st century pandemic. But from a young boy who suffered with asthma, he worked hard to keep it in check each and every day. We believe that TR would prudently use every decision-making tool to stay physically healthy and productive through the COVID-19 pandemic. He would continue to live by his own indelible words, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are at.” Now let us pause for a reinvigorating look at The Three Cs. For TR would agree while health is the new wealth, prudence is the currency of choice we can all bank on! With much admiration for your continued success,
LauraAnn Migliore & Erik Bean
April 25, 2020
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