Pandemic reflections

In previous years we hosted numerous client events throughout the year. These events provided the perfect opportunity for us all to connect. When lockdown happened, we knew that staying connected with each other was essential, so we planned weekly client Zoom events. These events kept us connected and provided a welcome relief from the monotony of life in lockdown. We asked some of our guest speakers to share their reflections on 2020.

Pippa Shaper and Gabi Louw

The Resilience Talk

As our business, The Resilience Factory, centres around teaching Authentic Resilience, 2020 will be a year we’ll never forget. Never before has the need for authentic resilience been quite so prevalent, and it has been a privilege to take our model, tools and techniques to people around the world. Like so many other businesses, The Resilience Factory had to ‘pivot’ really quickly, and we took our course online the week South Africa went into lockdown in March. Since then, we have taught over 1000 people around the world the secrets to living an Authentically Resilient life – one of thriving, not just surviving – and we are delighted to see so many businesses investing in their teams.

However, the impact will continue to be exponential, and we foresee a long tail of mental health issues as the world continues to change so rapidly. Adaptability, flexibility and the need to embrace impermanence have never been more important than they are now. We so look forward to continuing to develop our work, our learnings and our impact.

Hamilton Wende

Storytelling and Truth

I’m a freelance writer and producer, and the pandemic caught me well prepared financially for the first weeks, but quickly that evaporated as the months of joblessness crept by. It was – as it was for millions of people in our country – frightening, and then, terrifying. There was just nothing on offer for long stretches of time.

My first positive reaction was to embrace the world of technology far more than I had ever done, and reach out via social media to people with whom there was a chance of meaningful connection. This approach yielded some successes quite quickly. The business that grew was small, but at least it provided positive steps in the right direction and kept some money flowing in.

Importantly, I was lucky enough to be able to keep working on my original vision which was to expand my writing, journalism and communication business – and step by step, sometimes with my heart in my throat; I kept that vision alive. Now that severe lockdown has eased, business has picked up again, and I count myself so fortunate to have been able to keep to my own life vision throughout a very scary time. Let’s hope it remains that way going forward – for all of us!

Paula Quinsee

Managing your relationships in Lockdown

There have been many positives and negatives coming about from COVID, but one thing that has stood out for me is that we have realised what is important versus what is valuable. We have had time to reflect on what’s important to us, such as freedom of movement, relationships, family, friends and quality of life. We’ve also realised that we can do without so much stuff (i.e. material things).

Being in lockdown has allowed people and families to do so many things that they have been putting off, procrastinating over, or wanting to do, but never have for various reasons. It’s allowed us to have some downtime, spend quality time together, change our lifestyle and force us to connect in new ways. Perhaps COVID was here to teach us this important lesson that we had been neglecting and taking for granted in so many ways.

Sean Brokensha

The Music Guru

This year has shown me how music, as it always has, shines a light when days are darkest. We’ve witnessed Italians banging their pots on balconies, making music that declares, ‘We are still alive’, a torrent of fine lockdown songs recorded, and ordinary people making, sharing, dancing to, and enjoying the pure truth of music. Witness, comfort, and part of the way back, music will underscore the triumph of the human spirit.

As long as there’s a melody, I’ll not be melancholy.

Kim Potgieter

Dare to Lead

I cannot reflect on the year without feeling immensely grateful. I have been overwhelmed with how our clients have embraced technology, keeping in contact and joining the Chartered Family through numerous online events. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to share my learnings on vulnerability and empathy with our clients, which is the one thing that I believe has helped me through this year.

For me, this year has been about leaning into my vulnerability. It’s comforting to know that it’s ok to feel anxious about uncertainty, that it’s normal to feel afraid, and it’s perfectly natural to give yourself the time to feel these emotions, to really connect with what you’re feeling, instead of fighting or flighting from it. So now, when I feel overwhelmed, I allow myself to experience my sadness, my pain, my frustration or my sense of helplessness. To allow yourself to be vulnerable is to permit yourself to heal from the inside out.

What really stands out for me this year is the abundance of kindness and give-back that I’ve noticed and seen firsthand among our staff and clients – and also friends and family. Empathy sits at the core of this heroism. I have
experienced that by just being present in someone else’s story, really tuning in and listening, without judgement and without jumping in to give advice, establishes true human connection.

And finally, I am surprised by how much I was able to save this year. I rediscovered the joy of home-cooking and spoiling myself with hot baths, manicures and pedicures. And of course, spending so much time with my family and making new, unforgettable memories.

Dr David Kloeck

Covid-19 and what is really happening on the homefront

As a clinician in the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, this journey has most certainly been a roller-coaster ride. We South Africans were lucky to be spared the devastating effects of a novel disease, dictating the lack of normal pathophysiological mechanisms that patients and healthcare workers in the Northern Hemisphere suffered at the beginning of this pandemic. Our healthcare teams had the advantage of preparing, and undertaking drastic measures in terms of complete lockdowns and states of disaster, in order not to replicate what the north was experiencing.

The telecon calls from our overseas colleagues were heart-wrenching. Being a completely medically-focused member of the community, I perhaps don’t recognise and acknowledge the hardships of what an economic disaster we are in. Still, the light in our tunnel allowed us not to experience the burden of disease our other international colleagues faced. Not making too light of the situation, we were most certainly placed under new and significant stressors and pressures, but the most incredible memory I recall while I write these few words is how the men and women who work at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital rallied together, volunteering and giving more than 150% of their time and effort to look after our main Covid Intensive Care Unit. My junior doctors all have walked out with smiles on their faces and personally said to me that they “loved working in the Covid wards”. My nurses always (and I really mean always) had a smile and a willingness to make a plan. Every day, without fail, the senior nurse asked me if all was okay, and if there was anything she could do to make things better. I appreciated this so much. My wish is for a way to lift these frontline workers, and give them the true recognition they deserve! They are the real South African heroes! It’s been an honour for me to work for the people, with the people!

Lynda Smith

Quiz Night

It has been a year like no other. I am grateful for the technical skills that helped me to convert to working online seamlessly, and at the same time, help many others to learn the skills needed.

Personally, it has been a big year as I have just moved to the Western Cape. These are not easy decisions and should
not be made lightly. The most important thing is that you take yourself with you wherever you go. Make sure you are
content and filled with joy, no matter where you may be.

Finally, going grey, gracefully, during lockdown has been about giving myself permission to be who I am and to celebrate the process.

Stephen Mc Gown

Freedom is an Attitude

For me, 2020 came charging out of the starting blocks, I was fully booked for corporate talks, both locally and internationally. 2020 had very exciting prospects. By the 18th of March I had had 28 talks cancelled. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then over the next five months I was asked to do 35 virtual presentations to companies. I was reminded to be patient and not to waste a day worrying. Focus on what’s important in life, do your best and opportunities will follow.

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