Sympathy and Compassion in the time of Covid-19

What my first ‘yes another soapbox’ blog-post didn’t focus on is sympathy and compassion.  It didn’t look at the aspect of the economic impact, on individuals (and the corporate world) and the challenge of aligning the economic with the health dimension (a pandemic’s dimensions of infection and death).

Whether it is a self-employed Life Coach / Business Coach / Language trainer, or a small-business owner (let’s say a clothes shop – where the owner makes the products themselves, or a hairdressing salon) – the consequences of measures taken to combat Covid-19 are existentially threatening to the income of these examples. In fact – millions and millions of people will be having their very existence threatened – on an economic level. There are millions of people who may well lose their salaried jobs and millions who are looking for a job, whose opportunities have become more difficult.

I’m officially without work and rely on state support. I am looking for work and looking to develop solutions to my situation. I’m not intending to spend the rest of my working life from the resources of the state.  – I have met people in a similar situation who are very committed to securing new work – whose challenge now will have increased markedly. I do have sympathy for all of those people – this is something I didn’t intend to be part of the ‘yes another soapbox’ post. But I can see how its commission may have come across as a shortage of sympathy. The world will be looking at the economics of the situation in the coming months. We’ll be taking stock by the end of the year: what is the real extent of bankruptcies? What will governments need in terms of expenditure to account for the increased state burden (to help the Neely unemployed and failed businesses? How will the ‘marketplace’ look for the self-employed coaches and trainers – whose delivery of services was very much bound up with travel and face-to-face delivery (given the new reality of virtually-delivered training and services)? How will consumerism itself look at the end of the year – the fashion industry has taken a huge hit (and I sympathize both for the large players – as well as the hundreds of thousands of shop-workers, whose livelihoods were based on a certain demand on the Highstreet. I do sympathize too with the politicians who will be grappling with the maelstrom unleashed by this pandemic. A most unenviable of challenges. In times of crisis the quality of leadership is highlighted. Not only leadership from the ‘captains’ of industry, leadership from the government and politicians; but also our own leadership of our self.

How are we responding to this crisis? Are we panicking? Are we feeling helpless in the face of the pandemic and the impact it is having on our life? Are we seeing this as only a threat or are we also seeing it as the opening up of new opportunities? How are we dealing with the restrictions the pandemic has created? Financially? Socially, emotionally and intellectually? What do we want out of this crisis? A full return to how things were in 2020 and a chance to pick up where we left off? Or something different? Leadership is an interesting expression. It’s something that clearly does not only apply to senior figures (head of state, Managing Directors, CEOs, etc) – it is not something that only comes at us from without but also a quality and attitude that is something we must own for our self. A crisis, I believe, highlights this in especially significant ways. The challenges cannot be solely left to the government and cannot be left solely to the individual. As always- a new sense of alignment, awareness, and action is going to be required in the weeks and months ahead.  We will be defined by uncertainty, whether we like it or not. It’s my experience that people are not that comfortable living with uncertainty and ambiguity. There is a danger that in the face of this some people embrace simple explanations. The fact is – this isn’t going to be an easy year by a long-shot. But it doesn’t have to be a year of unadulterated doom and gloom. I am convinced that the last months have uncovered a reservoir of initiative, resourcefulness, a newly discovered alternative sense of value, life-pace (and space) that pre-pandemic life had covered up. Time will tell. Shall we listen and join the telling?

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