“To go, or not to go?” That’s the question that I have been wrestling with over the weekend. As a consequence of COVID-19, all our face-to-face programmes with clients scheduled in February and March have been either postponed or replaced with virtual options, except two.
I was due to travel to Dubai next Monday, followed by Batam, Indonesia in late March. Dubai will be my first overseas destination since the beginning of the outbreak. Part of me yearns to return to ‘business as usual,’ get on with normal life, and carry on with my work in leadership development. Another cautious part wants to minimise non-essential travel so as to lower the risk of being infected or infecting others. At present, there are more confirmed cases of infection in Singapore than UAE. And I certainly don’t wish to be known as the guy who spread the virus to Dubai.
Confused and undecided, I chose the easy way out. Instead of facing into the dilemma, I expressed my preference for postponement and left it to the client to decide. Eventually, as the company put in place a ban on non-essential travel and that some participants would be travelling in from other middle-eastern countries, the workshop was postponed.
I was relieved, but somewhat disappointed with my cowardice. Why hadn’t I just said ‘No’?
Then I thought of one of Shunmyo Masuno’s 100 Zen practices that I had previously shared on Day 24 of #50daysofsimpleliving:
75. DO NOT BE SWAYED BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS. The secret to breaking free from confusion … Decisiveness is about having the ability to trust in yourself.
This time, I trusted myself, and took courageous action. I wrote to the CEO of the other client, shared my concerns openly, and recommended strongly to postpone the training in Batam. I also expressed firmly my withdrawal from the engagement should they decide to proceed as planned.
I’m not going to Indonesia this March, no matter what the latest news or COVID-19 statistics may suggest. And I shall not be swayed by others’ opinions.
I made my stand and felt fully at peace. And the CEO responded shortly:
Our policies are in line.
We just decided to postpone the school 2 hours ago. I will get back to you in the next days with proposals for new time slots.
Great minds think alike. Looks like ‘business as usual’ is not about to return anytime soon, if it does, at all.
And I learnt my lesson on leading in uncertain times. As much as rational and well-informed decisions are often preferred, in the absence of sufficient information, we still need to take a courageous stand. Whether we choose to be guided by intuition or grounded on values, Masuno’s wisdom is worth heeding.
Decisiveness is about having the ability to trust in yourself.