EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

There was this very amusing comedy routine that I heard many years ago. During part of it, the comedian pointed out that when operating on a patient under local anesthetic, surgeons are not allowed to say “oops.” (I know what I mean when I say oops. What did he mean?)

In much the same way, and for many of the same reasons, the captain of a ship is not allowed to show fear. No matter how fierce the storm, no matter how lost he may be at the minute, even if the vessel is becalmed and the water and food are running out, the captain is expected to keep his wits about him and act like nothing is wrong.

There is a Chinese curse or proverb that goes something like: May you live in interesting times.

Honestly, I really wish the times we are now living through were a little less interesting. If things get worse in the world or continue on this path, even I may begin having a little difficulty holding it all together. (I’m honestly having difficulty figuring out who is who in the various conflicts going on around the world and which groups are on “our side.”) And then, of course, we have COVID-19 just about everywhere.

Let us all relax a bit. While it isn’t clear if the world IS actually going to heck in a hand basket, we can rely on the fact that anything that doesn’t kill us is only going to make us stronger. Most likely when this is all over, we will all be as strong as Superman. (At least the price of gasoline has stayed low!)

The most important thing to keep in mind if you are the primary bread winner of your “ship” is that the crew is watching you at all times. If they see you break into a sweat, stay in bed until noon, cry when you get your health insurance statement, or any of the other 100’s of things you might be well justified in doing, it is only going to make matters worse.

If the crew loses faith in the captain, mutiny is the likely result. And, with the crew out of control, your job and job search process is only going to get more difficult. Job search is stressful enough without members of the family acting out.

The solution is to have a plan. If you have lost your job, face reality immediately. Short of burning the house down for the insurance and sleeping in the car, you should have a family meeting to discuss conserving cash. (I would point out to you that cash is a 4 letter word.) The longer you wait to begin the process, the harder it is to manage through.

We can all be critical of the corporations who lay off workers in anticipation of a downturn of their business, but the truth is that they are being smart. If they wait until they have no choice, there won’t be severance, outplacement or even perhaps a last paycheck.

Unfortunately, your ship may not be of sufficient size for congress to believe that you are too big to fail. Most likely, you are going to be left to your own devices. So, chin up (it is easier to hit that way), and bite the bullet. Make a bold plan now and stick to it.

When you step into a lifeboat, you never know how long it will be until you are picked up. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

But, most important, do your “falling apart act” out of sight of the crew. They don’t respond well to it.

Regards, Matt

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