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Column | Leadership

‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)’

Column | Leadership

‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)’


This 1987 iconic and snappy song from the Athens, Georgia-based R.E.M. articulates how many of us could be feeling about 2020. Does it resonate with you? Does it feel like it’s the end of the world as we know it? Are you at peace with that? Hold that thought.

In April, at the height of the pandemic uncertainty and chaos, I found myself walking around the house singing the chorus to this song. It’s not like I had anything competing for my attention night after night, except a virus that was disrupting so many facets of life as we knew it. When will this be over? I’m no Lord Eddard Stark, but winter is literally coming, my friends.

It seems like there are three paths we can take.

The first one is what I’ll call Hunker Down. Gather up all the provisions, lock the doors and wait for the storm to blow over.

The second I’ll call Storm Chaser. Run at the virus and launch a flurry of counter punches to defeat all it is doing to change our familiar patterns of work and home.

The third I’ll call The Current. Accept that the river is going to go how it wants to go and equip yourself to harness the current.

The illusion of certainty that we can somehow engineer our lives and our work to eliminate the unknown is nice but unattainable. We can plan and prepare for risks, but we can’t make an uncertain world certain.

Erin Rollenhagen, author of the book Soul Uprising: It’s Never Just Business, challenges us to seek peace rather than certainty. In her article titled “This is 40,” posted in March on her website, the author and entrepreneur talks about a whitewater rafting trip and the instructions for self-rescue. Those instructions include being calm and letting the current take you to shore. Likewise, the best way to survive a riptide is to use the current rather than to fight it.

As I reflect on R.E.M.’s iconic song, it’s the last four words in parentheses that matter the most. It may be the end of the world ‘…. as we knew it ….’ but I feel fine. I am officially proclaiming 2019 the good ol’ days. It is time to let go and move on to what is next. Peace.

About the Author

Michael M. Allen, FHFMA, CPA,

is CFO, OSF Healthcare System, Peoria, Ill., and 2020-21 Chair of HFMA.

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