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We Pause for This Brief...

Blogs Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU Mar 17, 2020

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was driving to work feeling as shellshocked as the rest of the world.

For those of us living in Phoenix, the morning’s events had transpired as we were waking up. So, the drive to work was punctuated with unending radio news coverage and after-image visions of the abominations we had seen on television. Should any of us have been going to work? I don’t know. But, when we find ourselves in unfathomable situations, we fall back on habit.

As I drove, I looked into the skies and thought a very strange thought. For the first time in my life, when I looked up, I was seeing an empty sky. No contrails, no airplanes, no evidence of flight other than the birds.

It is one of my vivid memories from that day.

This Monday morning, I took my first cup of coffee out to my back porch to enjoy the morning — a beautiful spring day here in Phoenix. (There is a reason baseball's spring training is held here this time of year, which, of course, is not true right this very moment.) And I looked up in the sky. And I heard the birds. And I flashed to that moment from almost 20 years ago.

To compare the events of 9/11 to the current COVID-19 situation is to compare apples to something even less like apples than oranges. Yet, there is still a similar sense of history, a sense of the moment, a recognition that we are in the middle of something that we have never seen before and that will change us all forever.

The birds sing. The sky is clear. The world looks the same. But it is incomprehensibly different.

Last week I wrote about how my little blatherings are inconsequential to the moment. Let me take that one step further and say that, in our current circumstances, they are inconsequential to anything that has happened, is happening, or will happen.

And it is very easy for any of us, particularly in the world of internal audit, to start to question the importance of what we do, particularly when running up against the wall of current events.

As I noted in the social media posts used to promote that most recent blog entry, we are not fighting cancer here in internal audit. However, that does not mean that what we do is valueless. We provide an important service to our organizations. And now, with the hyperfocus on a very specific issue, it is easy to forget that other things continue to go on in this world.

I am going to take what I hope will be a short hiatus from writing these posts. Who knows? It may be shorter than some of unplanned breaks I’ve taken. It all depends on how things change/progress/evolve/move forward. But, move forward they will. And when things have settled a little, I’ll be back.

I can do that. As noted, my pontifications ain’t that big a deal.

But internal auditors must remember that the work is important. We need to maintain focus on that work and provide the value we provide.

Remember. Keep calm. And, just as important, do those audits.

Oh yeah. One other thing: Whatever you do, don’t hoard toilet paper.

Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU

Co-founder and Chief Creative Pilot, Flying Pig Audit, Consulting, and Training Services (FPACTS), based in Phoenix.