Viktor Frankl, Disruption, and COVID-19

Mason Harris Designer Mask

It’s amazing how quickly things change. One day we’re enjoying a booming economy, a bright future, and joking with colleagues at work. A few weeks later, just days into our home isolation, we’re binge-watching ‘Love is Blind.’ Again.

Offices, airports, streets, stadiums, restaurants, schools, exercise facilities, houses of worship – the list is endless – are all empty or shuttered by regulation and fear.

In my workshops and keynote presentation The Chutzpah Rules, I identify eight (or so) principles for success in business, and more importantly, life.

Right now I’d like to focus on ‘purpose,’ one of the most important rules.

In his groundbreaking book Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl offers us a proven path for survival, both emotional and physical.

Man…can only live by looking to the future and this is his salvation in the most difficult moment.”

What enables us to focus on our future, in life and business, when we’re overwhelmed with stress, uncertainty, and slow broadband?

Purpose. (Or even multiple purposes.) 

While some may dismiss this as trite, its power is proven. Think of people you know who have survived to attend a child’s or grandchild’s wedding, despite living with a terminal disease and beating their physician’s estimate of survival. Or others who have overcome insurmountable odds to complete their masterpieces in work, athletics, community, or the arts. These people had a purpose that drove them to persevere, no matter the obstacles.

As part of our innate drive to both survive and thrive once again, five elements that contribute to our success were identified:

  1. Spiritual beliefs: We all believe in something greater than us, whether we refer to this as organized religion, nature, or science. These beliefs can be helpful in calming our fear of the unknown. I know of occasional synagogue attendees who are now participating in online live Shabbos services. It’s not about convenience, it’s about gaining critical perspective.
  2. Acts of kindness: In addition to our natural desire to protect one’s family and oneself during times of stress, stories and images of others reaching out to assist people in greater need inspire us. This is an opportunity to be kinder to others, even if separated by a physical door or an electronic connection. Call friends and relatives to check-in on their well-being. Are you mentoring someone in your organization? Don’t stop! Phone calls and Zoom may not replace your in-person meetings, but they reflect your ongoing commitment to help guide someone else’s journey. Everyone benefits!
  3. Images of loved ones: We may be separated from family and friends during this stressful time, but pictures, video, and FaceTime are wonderful prescriptions for generating smiles, good memories, and optimism. Do you have pictures from a company gathering or a Presidents Club Award event? Re-post them – everyone loves to relive good memories, and no one gets tired of watching the VP of Sales dancing like it’s his first time.
  4. A grim sense of humor: Go ahead and laugh. Tell bad jokes to family members – apparently, according to my kids, this is a specialty of mine. Watch your favorite comedians online – and feel free to laugh without shame even if it’s a joke you would never repeat in public. (But don’t pass these around the workplace unless you would like to make this “work at home” status more permanent.)
  5. Healing beauties of nature: It’s springtime. Baseball may be delayed, but new growth on trees, flowers in our yards, weeds on our lawns, and increased online meetings are hallmarks of the rebirth of natural life around us. We can’t help but be optimistic when appreciating this never-ending cycle.

This pandemic will end at its own pace, and life will return to normal for most of us. Until then – be safe, think about what Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz, has gifted to us, and keep your purpose in mind.

 Mason Harris, aka ‘The Chutzpah Guy,’ looks forward to sharing more of The Chutzpah Rules. For questions, comments or bookings (yes – bookings – because this will end!), please feel free to reach out to me at

Twitter: @chutzpahguy

About the Author
Born in Queens, NY, the middle child of Holocaust survivors. Earned my MBA in marketing and joined my first Fortune 500 company. Founded my first company and introduced products/services related to data collection, public communication, restaurant marketing, mobile billboard vehicles. Received recognition for Fast Growth and success in the Washington DC area. Partnered with two others on IsraelFramed, a company profiled previously in TOI. Authored Entree Marketing and leveraged the book into paid national speaking engagements. Currently working on my 2nd book, The Chutzpah Rules.
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