Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is trending in the news, social media, our waking hours and even our dreams.  This suggests that both our conscious and subconscious minds are engaged.

Many are saying “life will never be the same”, but what do they mean?  Many used similar words immediately after the 9/11 attacks and after the 2008 financial crisis. Granted that life constantly changes and no 2 seconds of time are the same, frankly no fundamental change has happened for humanity. Observe this on individual, organisational and government levels. So why and how could life beyond COVID-19 be different from what we know?  It is possible that this crisis will be different.  This article shares my thoughts on how it could be.

Humankind

We have a reminder that Humankind is intimately connected and as the “nose weeps with the eyes”, what affects the individual, affects the larger community, within and across borders. Our increasing reliance on technology only goes so far and becomes an avenue for Nature to self-correct our ways. How is a leader to lead themselves and their followers going forward? Gallup reporting on a recent survey, says the biggest global study of what followers want identifies that the world’s 7 billion citizens demand that leadership and institutions lead our nations and the world with (1) compassion, (2) stability, (3) trust, and (4) hope and inspiration for the future.

Gratitude

As lock-downs, self-isolation and social distancing are implemented, we must find compassionate ways to take care of ours and other’s mental health to manage anxiety; manage triggers for tendencies to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); practice gratitude, limit exposure to consistent negative news and analysis, and internet misinformation; eat well with supplements where needed; exercise and still connect with others.  I have found peace most in accepting my mortality. Meditation and mindfulness practice which can help discernment of appropriate decisions and behaviours is also helpful.  COVID-19 has already taught me that washing my hands properly for 20 seconds and rinsing for 10 seconds requires attention and focus which I would reserve for work and sport, yet this is more crucial for survival than those.  Other conscious behaviours include choosing how to dry my hands, keeping my hands away from my face, travelling on public transport with minimal reliance on holding on, choosing how to open doors and generally ditching the autopilot.  I have opportunities to develop remote working skills, especially virtual presentations and meetings, to ensure I am photogenic and maintain personal impact in virtual environments as in physical ones. “Keep Calm and Wash your hands” is a good mindset to simplify and take care of the basics.

Holistic look

I am a bit concerned that humanity could miss a trick here, though.  Perhaps the most valuable lesson here is that life cannot afford to keep going back to business-as-usual in the ways we are comfortable with, when we have evidence that this is not sustainable and does not provide stability. Perhaps here is an opportunity for humanity to take a more holistic look at itself in order to prevent the next in the series to threaten current generations of humankind. Any serious holistic look at prevention, would inevitably lead to an examination of “how humans are living” in the universe.  If we do not look, Nature will.  It is Nature’s way to sense and correct imbalance in the universe.

Shift in mindset

In concluding, it is time we realise that taking care of our selfish interests to the detriment of others in our species and others, has landed us where we are and we need another level of thinking with a shift in mindset, if we are to prevent follow-ons that Nature may have in the series. Leaders could demonstrate such a mindset in perceiving situations, understanding them in the fullness of their connectedness to other issues and working collaboratively to be more aware of the impact of humankind on its ecosystem in small ways and large, individual and communal. Their actions and ours can provide compassion, stability, inspiration and hope for the future.  This, is how it could be.

Joseph Ogbonna is a London-based versatile, experienced coach, with excellent supporting skills in strategic thinking, relationship building, mindfulness, organisational development, project and programme management skills, serving a range of public and private sector clients.