After 70+ days in lockdown, here is what I have learned

I actually lost track of which lockdown day we were on and was astounded to learn that when I wrote this, it was day 76! It has been refreshing to witness how our country has slowly started to return to a life less in isolation…

It is a catch22 scenario – we really just want to leave our homes, go to the office or go to the shops…. but we are brave in doing so, as we know, one of the most effective ways to flatten the curve is to not leave our homes.

Our boys, both in matric, started school. One of their teachers shared a photo; all the matric pupils sitting on the pavilion with masks (you cannot see any smiles) 1.5m apart. I cannot imagine what they are thinking; this is not the matric year they expected – another indication that life is unpredicted and uncertain. At least they will have a story to tell in a few years.

“My discomfort is a sign of my growth” – this quote has been one of my favourite “lockdown quotes” that I will always remember.  

We have all transitioned in some way.

My three lessons from the lockdown are:

  1. You cannot break a habit – you can only replace it

At the start of the lockdown, I was part of The Human Edge’s “Train the Trainer” virtual workshop to become a facilitator for Power of Habit series (based on the book of Charles DuHigg). The timing of this could not have been better. 

We can all benefit from building a new habit to replace the other “not so good” ones. This is critical for success and can relate to any aspect of your life.

What I found valuable are the master scripts or stories we believe about ourselves. Once we understand what script is driving our behaviour we can start changing the behaviour. 

Remember, our pattern of thoughts or attitude is also habits that can be replaced with better thoughts. Over the past few weeks, I had to remind myself that disruptive (and rollercoaster) emotions are normal: “Loving this lockdown life… working from home… living in my ‘skaapvel’ slippers, no more traffic….” vs “I miss people. I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want to go back to how it was!

In the end, how you respond to these moments are what matters. Your attitude during times of massive change is what keeps your head above the water.

  1. Build resilience and stick to your priorities

The principle of building resilience was topical during the lockdown. Resilience means not only bouncing back but to be better than before, and sometimes, that is a tough task.

Etienne van der Walt and the team at Neurozone have researched resilience and how this directly impacts high performance. Their research found that: “The duration of exercise, destructive habit avoidance (remember those Easter eggs?) and optimism, have shown the largest increases in a likely positive effect on resilience compared to earlier data.”

The month of May marked my 3-year entrepreneurial journey. The lockdown was an opportunity to dream and plan about taking my business to the next (digital) level. It was needed to have a hard look at my business priorities and had to make tough decisions around some business associations.

A valuable exercise was looking with an objective eye towards my business, the challenges experienced and then mapped possible solutions of how to overcome them. It is amazing how much more prepared I feel for what lies ahead.

Remember it next time when you do goal setting – to identify the obstacles / challenges upfront and to consider possible solutions – highly recommend!

  1. The Kindness Revolution

One of the business books that had a big influence on my career is Ed Horrel’s Kindness Revolution. It is all about a company-wide culture shift that inspires phenomenal customer service. 

One of the chapter’s heading is “When a customer calls in sick” and is about making your customers feel important. Ask yourself if your customers feel important enough that they will miss out if they leave you. Or will they move to another service provider that makes them feel more important and valued than you?

I have experienced this with the HR & Leader Think Tank – a community of individuals wanting to be inspired and learn. When I started my business, I had so many dreams. One of them was the HR & Leader Think Tank. I was left amazed when people make it their mission to phone to say they will not be able to make this week’s session. That commitment and to know that I made a direct impact on a person’s life and career brings me the biggest fulfilment.

I’m grateful for the guest speakers that believed in my vision and that offered their expertise free of charge. I will continue offering likeminded individuals a platform – a community – to discuss, debate and share learnings, and I hope I will continue to inspire and influence as this journey of mine progresses.

On a personal side of things…

The one memory that I will treasure and will definitely form part of my adjusted life is a meaningful pause, a slower pace and appreciating the true value of connection. One of my favourite times during lockdown was ‘tea time’; sitting in the sun like a family of “dassies” enjoying quality time, and meaningful conversations.

A reminder: If you wait for the right moment to be happy and content, you will wait for a very long time. Every day is a new day, a fresh start to live life in abundance.

Thank you for following me on my journey!

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