Brad Feld

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False Reassurance

Jan 27, 2021

The Covid crisis has generated an extraordinary amount of what I like to call “false reassurance.”

Consider how many times you heard something general like the following some time in 2020.

  • Everything is going to be ok.
  • We will get through this pandemic.
  • Things will go back to normal.
  • You’ll look back on this as a unique time in your life.

Or, consider all of the messages you heard about the severity of the disease over the past year. Most of the messaging, until recently, was not “79,000 people in the US are going to die of Covid in the first 26 days of 2021.”

Or, “By the end of January 2021, over 425,000 people in the US will have died of Covid.”

It’s tough to focus on what is actually happening and what to do when bombarded by false reassurance. It doesn’t matter what the context is – Covid, business, relationships, health, sports, …

Pema Chödrön’s book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times is a powerful place to start when considering false reassurance. But, an even more grounding place is Jerry Colonna’s comment that “things are falling apart all the time.”

I’ve always loved the clichés about mortality, such as “Life is a fatal disease” or “Life is a process of continual oxidation.” I’m sure the physics majors out there can add to the clichés, especially since entropy always wins in the long run.

Amy and I work hard to eliminate false reassurance in our life. Instead of saying, “It’s going to be ok,” we try to address what is in front of us. Instead of denying reality, we deal with it. I try to do this in my work, although it’s much harder as the number of people in a system increase beyond two.

2020 has been brutal for many people, on many different dimensions. I expect 2021 will continue to be brutal, in some similar ways, but many that are different. There will be wonderful things mixed in, but they won’t be distributed evenly or equitably.

If you defer your own reality because of false reassurances, consider what would change if you deleted the false reassurance and started considering what was directly in front of you.