Riding the Storm Out - Lessons from the Last Century

Improvement Insights Blog

Riding the Storm Out – Lessons from the Last Century

My parents and grandparents lived through the early part of the last century – two world wars, Spanish flu, and the Great Depression. My wife’s grandmother caught the Spanish Flu and all of her hair fell out. Maybe we haven’t had the adversity to prepare us for this pandemic, but maybe we can learn from parents and grandparents how to cope.

Riding the Storm Out – REO Speedwagon

“Hi, this is Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and the QI Macros [software].

“On December 7th, 1941, my 17 year old mother was driving back from Knoxville, Tennessee back to Dayton, Ohio. My mom remembers how different it was because the lights were on in all the little farmhouses as they listened to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now that started off [the war] and she ended up working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base procuring stuff for the Air Force during the war. Because of the war my dad who was in Illinois came to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as well. They met and got married (or I wouldn’t be here). But it was four long years from the time they started the war to the end of the war. That was a long time.

“Our pandemic seems extensive, but that’s probably not [true.] I look back and I think about my mom who lived through the depression, and my grandparents who were born at the end of the 1800s. Both of my grandparents fought in World War I. That was a very long war as well. Then there was the Great Depression, a very long war as well. And then they had to go through World War II, right? These are things where you don’t know how it’s going to end and how it’s working out and it seems like it’s going to take forever and there are shortages and this and that and rationing and crazy stuff.

“Guess what? That’s kind of like our pandemic, and we’re not even a year into it. The reason I bring this up is because one of my employees told me that her neighbor’s son (an honor student) had committed suicide because he was lonely. You know I think, “What is it? Why were they called “The Greatest Generation” and why are we struggling with this concept that it’s going to take a while to work through this pandemic thing?”

“So that’s kind of my Improvement Insight for this week. There’s a song by REO Speedwagon called “Riding The Storm Out.” I’d encourage you to listen to it on YouTube because that’s it: we have to ride the storm out. Just so you can see, this is actually a little family photo. There’s my mom in the middle there, my grandmother and my grandpa and his World War I uniform, and even further back in the family tree. But the reason I’m here is because those people rode out all of those storms: World War I, the Great Depression, World War II.

“So anyway, I’m encouraging you: You know it’s going to take some time, but don’t let it get you down. It is what’s happening.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Ride out the storm.”


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