Lower Your Expectations

I see a phenomenon burgeoning. I watch it with endless curiosity and morbid fascination. It has to do with the coronavirus-induced notion that there will be a new normal … unless there won’t be.

The people who participate in this phenomenon seem to fall into one of three camps. They seem to do so in equal numbers. And oddly enough, the memberships of Camps One and Two consist of optimists.

Camp One comprises the people who think the new normal will be the same as the old normal. Clocks and calendars stopped at Point A. They will start again at Point B. When they do, we’ll all pick up where we left off as if nothing of consequence transpired between Points A and B. Everything will be the same. Everything will look the same. All conditions will be the same. Everyone will act that same. The coronavirus will have been nothing more than a chronological hiccup, the proverbial wrinkle in time.

Camp Two comprises the people who think the new normal will be nothing like the old normal. Clocks and calendars didn’t stop at all. Rather, the hands of the clock turned in new directions. And the pages of the calendar will flip to reveal possibilities of awe and wonder. Nothing will be the same. Nothing will look the same. All conditions will be different. Everyone — all of us who’ve been busily about re-imagining and re-inventing ourselves — will think and act differently. The coronavirus will have been nothing less than a cosmic miracle, leaving all of us joyfully renewed and boundlessly rewarded.

Camp Three doesn’t exist yet. But it will. When the members of Camp One and Camp Two find out they weren’t precisely or wholly correct, they’ll end up here. At that point, Camp Three will be the biggest camp, comprising, as it will, all the former members of Camps One and Two.

Until all of this shakes out, the best thing you can do is pace yourself.

And lower your expectations.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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    • Jeff, the notion of the backyard bunker is one of the reasons we don’t discourage Eddie, our dog, from digging in our yard. Anne and I are thinking that, if Eddie completes the excavation, we can construct the forms. Then, we’ll get a local concrete company to come in and pour the six-foot-thick walls. Since we don’t want to breathe the COVID-infected air, ventilation is a little tricky. But since we’ll also have do deal with odors from the litter box, we have Sammy, our cat, working on that. As for the reality show, we’re presently casting for The Adventures of Eddie and Sam. If you’d like to audition, please have your people contact my people.

      In the meantime, be safe. 😊

  1. Thanks Mark – it’s so hard not to try to plan ahead and envision what the future is like. You nailed it – the key for getting through this limbo is to lower your expectations. I loved the video – I’m currently making my way through great movies from the 80’s – Moonstruck was even better the second time. I look forward to reading more of your articles.