COVID-19: Navigating the curve

By Peter Miller
Executive Vice President of Business Development & Sales
Pro-Tech Industries (La Vergne, Tennessee)

This article was published in the July 2020 edition of NTEA News.

One of the first lessons we were taught in the Sheriff’s Academy emergency vehicle operations course was, “Look where you want to go — all your natural instincts and momentum will take you there.”

Look where you want to go. It seems simple enough, right? But not always. Put yourself in this scenario — you’re driving down a two-lane road at 40 miles an hour, and as you enter an unexpected curve, you see a white picket fence you’re hoping not to crash into. You want to hug the corner and stay on the pavement, but fear of the fence grabs your attention, and you focus on it.

If we shouldn’t fixate on the white picket fence, where should we look? In this scenario, the answer is the yellow line in the center — staying as close as possible without crossing over. The short version of properly negotiating a curve is to brake firmly in the straightaway, then ease off as you enter the turn, so the wheels will roll, not skid through it. As the turn ends, smoothly accelerate back to speed — all the while, looking where you want to go.

This is a simple, yet profound lesson. Great for driving, though I have found it applicable in many areas of life, especially these past few months. COVID-19 is a sharp, unexpected turn in the road, and we must now learn to navigate it while flattening the curve.          

Braking in the straightaway
It’s important to recognize some days will be really productive, while others not so much — and that’s ok. For many, daily routines shifted, giving us a new lifestyle, all while trying to stay safe and healthy.

With sudden change, it’s normal to experience mood fluctuations. When this occurs, don’t ignore it — take the time to acknowledge and work out of it. Go for a walk, video chat with someone or journal. Give yourself options and time to relax, if needed.

Rolling through the turn
As the country continues opening up, we’re not all going through the turn at the same time. Everyone is handling their own unique situation differently, and it doesn’t mean one way is more valid than another. The goal is for all of us to come out of the curve on the other side, no matter who starts rolling through first.

Smoothly accelerate back to speed
Looking where you want to go is important. Where were you headed before the curve?

Take a minute to assess your situation. Determine if your company, career and life are heading in the intended direction.

Once you see where you want to go, you can accelerate, or take your own turn.

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