I remember the morning of 11 September 2001 like it was yesterday.
I was in Brisbane, Australia, completing my masters degree in sport and exercise psychology. After returning to my student dormitory from a morning jog, I headed to the communal lounge to fix some breakfast. The room was packed, but the only sound was the live news broadcast. Everyone was fixated on the TV. I joined them just in time to see the second plane plunge into the World Trade Center.
The moment is etched into my memory. I can recall strained faces, the unnerving lack of conversation, and the smell of long forgotten burnt toast. But the most vivid detail of all was the absolute certainty that the world was about to change forever. It was hardly an original thought, and there was no specific foresight beyond that immediate conclusion, but I could feel it in my bones.
I feel the same way now.
COVID-19 may not have arrived with the same sudden and sickening jolt as 911, but the impact will likely be several orders of magnitude greater. It will fundamentally transform how we interact as a species, rippling across generations long after a vaccine is developed..
When I look back on September 11, the emotion that I feel more strongly than any other is shame. I knew that the world was going to change profoundly, yet I did nothing about it. I just carried on with my day (and every subsequent day) as if nothing had happened. I convinced myself that there was nothing I could do.
I won't make that mistake again.
COVID-19 is an unequivocal reminder that, for all of our technological advancement, we are crippled by tribal politics, cultures of personality and gaping inequality. It's naive to expect those who have ascended these hierarchies to champion much-needed reform. I believe that entrepreneurialism is our best hope.
Helping those who are brave enough to start a business, achieve financial freedom, and make the world a better place is the most important work I could possibly choose. The shame of September 11 is a perpetual reminder to take responsibility and not surrender helplessly to the winds of change. So I begin each morning the same: by reflecting on what I can do today that will actually make a difference a year from now.
Some choices are harder than others, but all of them are infinitely preferable to letting the future unfold instead of actively trying to shape it. So what are you doing to build a better future?