April 28, 2020

‘Up to our hips in alligators’

            Lee Iacocca is dead, but something he said is very much alive in my mind. The
auto-industry icon got credit for the birth of the wildly popular Ford Mustang. And when Chrysler spiraled into bankruptcy, Iacocca’s leadership savvy—with the help of Uncle Sam’s wallet—pulled the company back to solvency.            
            I have a friend who worked for Ford in the early Mustang Era. He still doesn’t think much of his old boss. If I had known Iacocca personally, I might think the same. Nonetheless, I can still dial up one of the carmaker’s crisis-time admonitions.
Iacocca advised that, if your objective is to drain the swamp and you are up to your hips in alligators, grab a pencil and paper. Write down the 10 most-important things you absolutely must do. Everything else must wait.

I’d say it is past time to grab that proverbial pencil. In a Pearl Harbor-like strike, COVID-19 has pitched America into a pandemic “swamp.” Despite the “alligators up to our hips,” we need the deadly virus waters drained—yesterday.
What is on your Top 10 list? 
Here’s what I scribbled before turning on my laptop:

1.    Do not panic. Stay calm. Realize what’s within my control and what’s not. I do not have the ability to produce the magic potion to cure this dreaded disease, but I do have the ability to keep my faith and positive attitude. 
2.    Pray. Prayers are lifting for families who have lost loved ones. I also pray for the recovery of those who are suffering from COVID-19. Physical and mental healing is urgent. Pray the much-needed miracle drug is developed—soon. And, by all means, pray for the frontline workers in this ungodly fight.
3.    Stay determined. Focus on keeping my family safe. My circle of “family” includes hundreds of co-workers and friends. Do everything that I can and then some. Never lose hope.
4.    Be kind to neighbors. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale preached that we should be kind to our neighbors. They have just as many troubles as we do. I would add, “Maybe more.” This includes all the businesses—large and small—struggling to survive. Our economy must rebound. Jobs are essential. And we want our investment and retirement accounts to regain their health, too.
5.    Be a leader. World War II legend Gen. George Marshall said a leader is a person who exerts an influence that makes you want to do better than you thought you could. I pray for the vision and stamina to be a leader within our family, our company and our community, exerting the right influence in this crisis.
These are my Top 5. There are five more, but I’ll hold them for now. My hope is that millions of Americans are making their absolutely-must-do lists, too. I keep going back to my faith, recalling biblical stories and scriptures.
The horrors of this coronavirus seem to make so many a modern-day Job. The Old Testament sufferer survived. Let’s pray we will, too. Dr. Charles Swindoll believes that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react.
That’s why we must ask ourselves, “How am I using my 90 percent to react to this up-to-our-hips-in-alligators COVID-19?”