Stay safe. Two words I never expected to add to almost every outgoing message I send. But here we are. Scary, surreal times for all of us, as the coronavirus spreads across the world.
Like any tough situation I find myself in, I’ve tried my best to step back and find positive aspects from this uniquely awful predicament we’re all in. And while I was running this morning, I was able to unscramble and see some good coming from this situation.
I call this reframing. Seeing things from different angles to get a better, more useful perspective. And before you think I am underplaying the severity of this situation, believe me, I’m not. I’m as concerned as the next person. For my elder parents, family and friends, most 3000 miles away. For my team and their families. And of course, for my own kids and 20-week pregnant wife.
However, for those of you in the same boat as me – living and working from home most hours of the day – I’m hoping the below gives you a perspective, not on what you’re losing due to COVID-19, but what you are gaining.
Ironically, being grounded and in isolation has given me a greater depth of connectivity, professionally and personally. Over the last two weeks, I’ve had video calls with my best friends and their kids. We’ve had dinner via FaceTime on our iPad with our parents in the UK. I’ve been in touch with every one of my team, regularly, with insight into what is going on in their world. I’ve communicated with almost every client via video, email or text, at a much deeper level.
The superficial connectivity and passing ‘how are you’ small talk has been replaced with genuine, heartfelt care for everyone I speak to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cold and clinical person. I’m a hugger. And I’d give anything to cuddle all my friends, family, team, right now. But there is something different going on here. And I for one am appreciating and grateful for it. Especially in professional life, it makes you realise just how valuable and important relationships are. It’s a bit like having kids. When you have one, you feel like you could not possibly love another as much. Then another one comes along and a wave of love gushes out. It’s similar here. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been so conscious of my mortality or the people I care about, but COVID-19 is unearthing an extra layer of care within me. So connect and re-connect with those that matter to you.
The only finite thing we all have in common. And the thing many of us wish and waste away, everyday. At a professional level, being isolated has cut out loads of passive time in my life, which is probably the same for many of you. A sizeable chunk of time, what a gift. So, use this time to move forward those important projects you’ve had on your list for ages. You literally have no excuse. Laziness, lack of motivation and complacency are the only things standing in your way. For most off us, you’ll look back in a few months and realise just how much time you had on your hands while this was going on. So make good use of it.
At a more personal level, many of you will be at home with kids, pets, partners etc. And you’ve no doubt been inundated with hilarious memes and videos about life at home with everyone, all day, every day. This is my personal favourite…
However, particularly for pets and smaller children, this is the best time ever. Shielded from the horror and scale of what’s going on, they will remember this as more time with you. So as busy as you are, take advantage and make time to play. Again, this situation has taken away freedom of movement, but given many of us the most precious thing of all – time with those that matter most of us. So don’t wish it away, take it for granted or moan about. Lean into it.
In my opinion, this situation is showing us the best and worst in mankind. There is a tendency in this situation to focus on you. What will this mean for me? My job? My life? And while that’s completely natural and justified, there are literally billions of people in a worse situation than you. The fact that you are reading this on LinkedIn inherently suggests you’re a professional, likely to be educated and you care about your own development.
You’ll be fine. And what I’m seeing from people I know is a desire and willingness to do something. Just help. One of my team is delivering food to elderly people in his community. Several of my team have volunteered for the NHS’ call for help. One of our clients has opened up its software platform for free to any drug development company wanting to use its proprietary technology to accelerate anything COVID-19 related. And my own wife offered to contribute towards the pre-school/nursery care costs for any kids in my youngest son’s class that have parents/carers now out of work due to the lockdown. Genuine, lovely, worthwhile humanity. So rather than focus on what this all means for ‘me’. Unleash your inner generosity and see how you can help others.
Whatever way you look at it. This is an unprecedented, chilling and uncertain moment in time. A chapter in history that will be told for centuries to come. But please, look for the rays of sun, behind the dark clouds. And embrace the silver linings.
Stay positive. Stay safe. Stay together.
We will get through this. And whoever you are, you are guaranteed a hug from me when I see you next.
P.S. some final quick tips…
Keep exercising to stay healthy
Don’t drink too much booze – it won’t help
Stop reading the news so often – limit media exposure