Perhaps no year in our living memory has been as traumatic as 2020. It proved that what may only exist in the realm of imagination could manifest into reality. Any story on contagion of this nature would have been considered pure fiction prior to this year. And yet it happened, impacting every human on our planet.
There are periodic events in history that take place to change its course. The current pandemic is one such event. What they leave behind are lessons for the future.
Here are my key work-life lessons from 2020
Don’t take life for granted
In today’s globally knit world, nothing can be taken for granted. Everything is so closely linked that the effect of something in one part of the world can cause a cascading effect across the globe. Covid is proof of how a disastrous event that originated in an unknown city of Wuhan engulfed the entire world with the rapidity of a bushfire.
Save before you spend
The advice “Don't save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving,” comes from Warren Buffett. Our government in its efforts to shore up the economy doesn’t incentivize savings. In a sudden crisis, it is critical to have enough liquidity to survive a minimum of six months. Refocus your priorities from spending to savings, irrespective of the age group.
Emotional well-being is vital
In any adversity, the first reactions are fear, panic & anxiety. These were the emotions that were caused by isolation & loneliness of the siloed environment of working from home, of those who lost their jobs & businesses. Not only do these reactions dull the mind at a time when clear thinking is critical, they tend to blow up the effects of a problem in our mind’s eye. Emotional well-being allows one to think clearly & react in a manner that will minimize the effects of the crisis & help in planning a recovery.
Adversity extracts the best out of people
The pandemic was as severe as it was sudden. It brought out the survival instincts in people who fought back to adjust to the changed circumstances. Daily wagers travelled miles & days to reach their villages. People struggled with inadequate health infrastructure. Organizations tweaked their business models to readjust to the new normal. It was sheer resilience & will power that pulled survivors through the most trying & traumatic times
Innovation counters adversity
Business owners and entrepreneurs who remained viable pivoted quickly and reinvented themselves. The ability to quickly adapt is what kept some small businesses afloat. From doctors moving to telemedicine to restaurants creating outdoor spaces and focusing on delivery and curbside take-out, marriages being conducted virtually, holiday destinations changing from hotels to stand alone cottages and homestays, the changes were extensive.
Technology is the new saviour
Technology saved the day for people & enterprises. It allowed people to operate from remoteness. Ecommerce proved a boon as did virtual kitchens, E-payments, online classes & medical support etc. As technology creeps deeper into our lives, it will be the biggest fall back for survival in future crisis.
Virtual world is the new reality
Virtual live-streaming created a whole new world, nullifying the remoteness of communication. From meetings, conferences, podcasts, webinars & events, we lived in a new virtual world. Communicating with workforce on platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams & Google Meet made running businesses easier from remote locations. We will henceforth co-exist in the virtual world.
Leadership agility is an antidote to adversity
Where leadership displayed agility of response, clarity of thoughts & led by example- whether political, business or domestic, it turned the tide favorably. Leaders who floundered took others down with them.
Communities proved a blessing
Resident Welfare Associations, institutions & individuals in various cities created communities to extend help to the destitute & the poor. It was a lesson in oneness. From food, clothing & medicines people took on responsibilities to collect & distribute. This made up in a big way for government’s inability to look after the less fortunate.
Gratitude is the way to live
People suffered trauma, pain & tragedy & yet each of us had so much to be thankful for. Each day began with gratitude for what didn’t affect us. There were enough reasons for us to count our blessings despite the year it was.
Finally money, status & fame had no bearing to what ultimately happened to us, nor did these protect us in any way. At the end of the day, we were all susceptible to the same effects, illnesses and consequences. We need to remember that whoever we may be, in the end we are all humans.