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It's not what happens, it's how you react that matters

cfx conference cfx2020 collaboration cumulative effects scenario planning Apr 02, 2020

I’m in control of my health. I try to eat nutritiously, exercise regularly, and get 8 hours of sleep. I remind myself daily to drink lots of water. I wash my hands after using the bathroom and before cooking. #normal

Just before Christmas I’m watching the news on TV and there is a report about a new, novel flu-virus in China – in Wuhan Province – literally an ocean away from me. It’s so far away from me it won’t affect me.

A lot of my stuff has a “Made In China” sticker on it. I wonder how many people arrive in Vancouver and Seattle every day from Asia on airplanes. Salmon Arm where I live is on the Trans Canada Highway, a 5-hour drive from Vancouver.

"We are in a slowly closing vice-grip"

4 or 5 tour buses come here every day with visitor from around the world. Our small city is a scheduled stop on many sightseeing vacation tours coming from Vancouver on a loop through the Roger’s Pass to the Rocky Mountains and back. Rain or shine they spend their evening walking around town enjoying the beauty of our little mountain watershed. I’m lucky to live here in this beautiful, protected place. 

Photo: Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada.  Source: Mike Simpson

It’s February and we are on our way out to take our son Jake out to supper for his birthday. I turn on the radio and there is a report about the virus showing up outside of China. And those poor people trapped on cruise ships with infected passengers! They must feel powerless and trapped! I have my business trip to California end of the month. Is it safe? Probably. I’ll be fine. Just don’t touch anything in the airport and wash my hands more.

Now it’s March madness. I’m watching Prime Minister Trudeau’s daily COVID19 update on Facebook. From a podium on the doorsteps of his home with no one else in sight he provides updates. Justin must self-isolate because his wife Sophie has tested positive. The infection and death tolls go up every day – by a lot. And as they do, the restrictions on our lives increase more and more.

We are in a slowly closing vice grip.

Am I losing control of my health? This virus is a real threat.

All the professional sports leagues are cancelling games, tournaments, and seasons. The government just announced that conferences and concerts with gatherings of over 50 people need to be cancelled or postponed.

Karen and I re-schedule our CFX2020 Cumulative Effects live event to September. But our growing cumulative effects community still need access to the case studies, success stories and the networking opportunities and new relationships. We resolve that “the show must go on” and will host CFX2020 The Virtual Experience May 5, 2020 – the same day the original event was to begin. Click here to Learn More and Register

The vice continues to tighten and restaurants, bars, and some stores have to close. Both my kids work in the service and retail sector – will they still have jobs? Are they at risk of exposure?  People all over the world have to adapt to staying home and working from home and if we must go out we have to keep 2m (6ft) between us and anyone else.

I’m absorbed in how this is unfolding. All the world’s leaders and top decision-makers are managing the crisis using scenario planning. As worldwide cumulative infection and death totals rise, medical scientists build and run simulation models of the expected virus spread. It’s just like the modelling and analysis work I lead with land use and climate change scenarios and simulations.

First they plot out the consequences of Business As Usual. If we keep doing what we are doing the virus will spread exponentially and infection rates will soar way above our medical system’s capacity. This scenario would be catastrophic.

Then they explore how effective different management strategies are at restricting the virus spread. The models quantify the cumulative effects of quarantining those who have contracted the virus. It reduces spread - a little.

A new phrase is coined: social distancing. The models forecast that this is the most effective action we can take to limit the spread. The asterisk is that we all must do it – not just some.

Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

There are some painful trade-offs with this strategy though. We have to temporarily give up our freedom of movement and the economy is going to be hit hard.

Nobody has a perfect crystal ball though – and there is uncertainty so the scientists run sensitivities using the models – what if we have a China scenario here? Or a South Korea scenario, or a northern Italy scenario?

My personal enemy is capitulation - surrendering, giving up, throwing in the cards – feeling powerless. I’ve been grinding on this all my life and I will never quit!

The chips are down there’s no way we are throwing in the towel.

We all know what we must do. WE MUST HUNKER DOWN, ISOLATE, SOCIAL DISTANCE. And all of us must do it together. Is this a defining moment?

I think so because I see good everywhere and I’m feeling better about this COVID19 thing - in a weird way.

I don’t mean that I like losing my freedom, seeing people’s businesses and jobs suffer or disappear including my own or my family’s. I don’t mean I feel good that so many people are sick and many are dying. That’s awful!

What I do like is our individual and collective response. Shhh, listen, there’s no geopolitical fighting and arguing. We are united in purpose across the world. We are focusing our collective power to reduce the virus spread and protect our people. Impressive. There is hope. I’m smiling now because I remember we did this before in my lifetime – remember when we stopped making the hole in the ozone layer bigger by banning aerosols?

We are fighting back the feelings of powerlessness with innovation and creativity. I heard on the radio that the Hiram Walker Distillery down the road is using it’s alcohol to make hand sanitizer. That’s awesome! People all over the world are 3-D printing ventilators. What a great idea! The generosity of people is shining everywhere. We will get through this together – I have more faith in humanity now! I will keep isolating - social distancing and offering help where it’s needed.

And the show is still going on May 5! CFX2020 The Virtual Experience registration is open now. Here’s what I want you to do: go to and claim your home office seat now.

Share this blog, and tell me about positive action you are doing or seeing as we focus our energy on a common goal.