At the time of writing, we Sydneysiders are beginning to venture forth after our second lockdown of several months, the longest we’ve had so far since the global pandemic. Is this the last one? We don’t know. What we do know is how we’ve each been affected so far – individually and collectively. There has been sacrifice and hardship. There are gifts that deserve to be savored and brought forward, as well as plenty of unfinished business and the possibility of re-emergence with enrichment and growth. Let’s unpack this!
As we approached our 80% fully vaccinated target, there was much excitement at the prospect of being able to head back to the shops once more, to get a professional haircut, enjoy a meal or a day out with a bunch of family and friends, even book some holidays out of town! Understandably people want and are ready to put this challenging period behind them and return to some kind of ‘normal’ life.
While I resonate with these feelings of hope, it might be helpful for longer-term wellbeing, to also consider the following:
- Personally, as my business went through cycles of slowing and then surging in synch with public sentiment and confidence in the economy, I have enjoyed the gifts of spaciousness and working online, which have allowed me to focus on the important but not urgent things that I could only occasionally get to before. I appreciated the gifts of no travel time, fresh air, greater productivity, health and wellbeing. I have had the opportunity to create and plan, to reorganise my space, reclaim and repurpose my content, set up new systems and platforms to support my business and re-train in a new modality.
- At a recent Business Chamber event, our guest speaker Jeremy Fleming of Stage Kings told his inspiring story of how their small business lost millions of dollars in cancelled orders in the first week of 2020 lockdown, due to the cancellation of all indoor and outdoor events for the foreseeable future. Highly geared and faced with the prospect of losing everything, they recognised that they still had determination, energy and choice. They researched what people outside their industry were needing at this time because of lockdown and realized that they could re-purpose the materials that they had already purchased, to build products that could be sold to the emerging working-from-home market. This required some new skills such as design and an online-marketing and delivery platform, as well as different logistics. They reinvented themselves, re-trained their staff (who had been temporarily stood down) and re-launched their new brand, IsoKing. They now have two brands and are unlikely to want to pack IsoKing away and forget about it as if Covid never happened!
- Reflection: What do I recognise now – about myself, my business and the current version of “normal” as problem, potential or opportunity? Where can I research, re-purpose, re-train, re-organise, re-invent? What is MY timeline for this? Forget FOMO – let’s back ourselves and our own unique contributions.
- In our Public Spaces – the first weekend when small groups could gather out of doors, our local park was filled with families and groups of friends picnicking casually on the grass, with their own fold-up chairs. The atmosphere was one of laughter and connection, children were closely supervised; hardly anyone was looking at their phones. Before lockdown, groups would only gather on the sports field or at designated BBQ areas with tables and chairs installed. Seeing all the green space creatively used in this simple way, with groups enjoying themselves while maintaining an appropriate distance from one another was uplifting and reminded us of times when life was less complicated. It was relaxing and uplifting to see and be part of this.
- Reflection: how could we continue to creatively use and appreciate our public green spaces – with greater care and respect for all the living beings within them, mindful of our own responsibility to come and go without debris or disturbance, considerate of the needs others who also enjoy them?
- Psychologists and other therapists I’ve spoken to are still experiencing a significant increase client numbers. Clients I work with who are Carers for vulnerable family members while also trying to manage working from home, and impacted by the loss of their regular NDIS services at this time due to risk of transmission, are feeling the strain. Liz Callaghan, CEO of Carers Australia was recently shared on a radio interview a study by Deloittes revealing the millions of hours and value of unpaid work being done by carers, whose own mental illness statistics are on a steady increase.
- These facts are a potent reminder not to assume that just because someone looks OK that they are actually feeling OK. This is the time to be more present, to listen longer and with more generosity if you can. It is also the time to reach out for help, whether you’re grumpy or if you’re sad. Nobody needs to suffer alone.
- Reflection: “Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others” Sharon Salzburg.
Emergence of Possibility
Growth is about change and change is a learning process. Learning requires us to assimilate the new as well as adapt our pre-existing mental models (beliefs, ideas, frameworks and paradigms) in order to integrate the new learning.
With something as profoundly life-altering as what we are going through, we have been required to change. It would not be easy, wise or necessary – to try and snap back to normal and carry on as though this never happened.
Imagine you have just opened a brand-new package, removed all the contents, tried them on or used them in some way and then decided to return it. How hard it is to replace all the contents and packaging and return it to its original condition? You can’t just squash it all back and have it snap back to how it was before. Exposure to the air and other elements have changed its original form.
We HAD to change – we can CHOOSE to grow. There is still much to do, to rebuild and renew ourselves and our communities.
- The Challenge: Organisational and Business Leaders are now called upon to grow their own emotional and cognitive agility.
- Simply asking their employees to create a more agile organisation will not meet the demands of this new reality; it starts with the leadership.
- Many employees have discovered or rekindled motives and values that are calling them to more meaningful and purposeful ways of earning a living, than giving all their discretionary effort towards earning the status and other rewards they were seeking before. Expect an increase in ‘presentee-ism’.
- The Great Resignation phenomenon and demands for greater flexibility in work hours may not be a passing phase!
- How can we become more aware of what it means to think collectively whilst we are still very present to what we need as individuals?
I’m also wondering about you.
- What has changed in your world that you are pleased about?
- What are you choosing carry forward with you?
- Are there things that you’re still learning about yourself and still processing?
- Did you experience extreme loss and how are you getting supported in your recovery?
- Are you looking for new ways to up-level your Inner Game of Leadership?
If you would like to receive additional resources in a particular area, please email me your request as ‘’Resources for Re-Emergence”, or book a 30-minute virtual coffee catchup with me for a personal chat.