I had an inspirational chat last week with Bertie Odendaal where we explored the challenges and opportunities presenting themselves during the coronavirus outbreak. What are we learning as leaders, communities and families on a daily basis, and what, in particular, are the pandemic lessons for the next generation? What do we need to be teaching our kids during this time (and I’m not talking about home schooling!)?

While I’m a parent and a leadership consultant, I don’t profess to have all the answers, but here are some of the ideas we explored:

  1. Be prepared to be derailed in your career path and in pursuit of your life goals. ‘The plan’ never goes to plan!  We must develop the mental and physical ability to reinvent ourselves.
  2. The problem is never the problem; it’s always the reaction to the problem that’s the REAL problem! This is so true. Anyone who has kids will have seen this on a regular basis.  The point here, for the next generation, is that when things don’t go your way, it’s the way you respond in the face of adversity that will tell you (and others) about your true character and ability.
  3. Never accept the status quo! For the last few years, the focus has been on a ‘look-at-what’s-going-well-and-do-more-of-it’ approach.  The future is likely to be far less tolerant of this attitude though, with an emphasis instead on continuous improvement, and a drive to look constantly for opportunities to get even 

Just think of all the innovation we have seen from individuals, organisations, communities and governments over the last 3-6 weeks. There’s been an unprecedented unleashing of potential and creativity in so many walks of life and, now we’ve experienced this, there’s a huge desire to see this momentum endure permanently.

  1. Be resourceful. It would appear from both history and current experience that we humans are far more resourceful when we have less. I am sure we will look back at some elements of enforced isolation with fondness, acknowledging those areas which have actually changed for the better.  We are hearing about people’s new-found appreciation for previously everyday aspects of life, as well as gratitude for new connections with neighbours and families both near and far. 

We have become resourceful again in connecting, looking after each other and even doing things around the house when the DIY stores aren’t open!  There’s no reason why we cannot adopt a curious state of mind in the future to assume a limited world and challenge our resourcefulness to build a brighter future.

I think these pandemic lessons can be summed up wonderfully by the words of Col. Gail Halvorsen, 99, when he said, “Attitude, gratitude and service before self are the key to a fulfilling life.”

A wise man indeed.

If we can teach our kids this simple message, then I think, as parents, we’ve done a good job.

After all, even in parenthood…iTS Leadership

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