Way back in 1697, the Dutch explorer Willem Hesselsz de Vlamingh and his expedition reached what’s now Australia and discovered a flock of black swans swimming in a river. This was a great scientific event – because no black swans were found in Europe then. This discovery profoundly changed the field of zoology.
Fast-forward 310 years to 2007 when The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by noted author Nassim Nicholas Taleb became an international bestseller and made the “Black Swan event” – which is a rare, unexpected occurrence that causes a major global impact – part of corporate folklore. Between 2001 and 2018, Mr Taleb published Incerto, a five volume discourse on uncertainty. Of the five, two – The Black Swan and Antifragile – are most popular.
The coronavirus Covid-19 is one such Black Swan event that is impacting all of us now. But beyond the gloom – and for some, a looming sense of doom – are there any positive lessons from the pandemic? Here are five:
C: Care not just for the very young and the very old, but also for other vulnerable groups in society, such as immigrant workers and those with physical or mental disabilities or ailments.
O: Obey guidance from scientists, such as staying home, washing hands frequently with soap, keeping surroundings clean, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding travel.
V: Virtual conduct is as important as physical. We must avoid going to suspect websites, clicking on attachments from unknown people, and carrying out financial transactions without second-factor authentication.
I: Information is imperative. Ensure we get it from trusted sources. Here are four of them for Singapore residents: Updates on Covid-19; collection of Covid-19 resources; tips on keep safe and sane during Covid-19; and Rolling Updates on Covid-19 from WHO.
D: Diligence is vital. Depression, despair and death of a relative or friend may cause us distress. But being disciplined, keeping due diligence and a sense of dignity could give us some measure of delight during these despondent times.
Despite the bleakness of this Black Swan event, let’s work together to try to find a silver lining.