Survival guide [Covid edition]

Staying positive, relevant, and connected!

Nothing teaches you more about life and yourself than tough times. The time of Covid has been by far one of the most challenging, for most of us, something that we had not faced yet. No one saw the second wave coming in India, and it has been more lethal than the first one. The first one was accompanied by fear, but the second one has been about the loss of lives. Everyone seems to have lost someone dear – a colleague, a friend or someone in their family. The wave has now ebbed, but we are already reading about a possible third and maybe, even a fourth one, so who knows.

I can only offer my gratitude, having survived this tragedy well (so far!) and learnt some valuable lessons along the way. As I reflect on the last fifteen months or so, I notice that if I have survived and maybe even thrived at a personal level, it is thanks to the three guiding principles I lived by in these times.

  • Staying Positive

This has been very challenging, given the grief all around, and it was tough not getting sucked into the vortex of negative thoughts. Limiting intake of news is one thing that helped me for sure. News today is not as much about facts but is more of an opinion, and you don’t need too many twisted views in these times. It is also true that bad news is good business for newscasters, and hence there is always more of it. And honestly, how much of the same do you really need to watch. Just catching the headlines once a day with the ‘old style’ 15 minutes of newspaper reading was more than enough. I knew I would never miss too much as any earth-shattering news will still find its way to my ears anyway.

Spending time instead on exercising, pursuing my hobbies, and learning new things is what I found to be more enriching, and this certainly helped me stay positive. Thanks to the time this adversity offered, I was more regular with my runs, built a new exercise routine, picked up the basics of two new languages – Spanish and Urdu and was able to explore the world of Urdu poetry and ghazals!

  • Staying relevant

We are all in a race to be relevant. In times of slackened activity such as these, adding to one’s knowledge and skills is a choice that we must all exercise. My learning calendar this year has been busier than ever before. I managed to build my capability as a team coach and initiated work on PCC credentialing with ICF. This was also the perfect time to develop a program on systemic team coaching partnering with another coach. In this program, we put together elements of coaching and leadership in the context of working with teams and ran the first batch of this program. 

Being more of a generalist, diversity of knowledge and experiences has always excited me. Reading more (averaging three books a month) in the non-fiction genre and pursuing online learning on Coursera and LinkedIn in hitherto unexplored areas of knowledge afforded the opportunity to understand more of different things. I also became more disciplined with my writing, contributing articles to various forums and taking forward my ‘wannabe author’ aspirations of putting together a book on personal change, hoping to publish it soon!

  • Staying connected

These times were not the easiest to prospect business, with every CXO and every organisation managing the impact of the pandemic. However, I found it productive to stay in touch and was also lucky to make some new connections. I felt that it was easier to access people; virtual meetings became possible, as no one expected face to face meetings anymore.

I made a conscious effort to check in with most of my coachees, whom I have engaged with over the last few years. I always attempt to bond with my coachees beyond the engagement and, this was the right time to do a check-in, see how they were standing up to the challenges of present times, and support them in any which way.

I renewed contacts with old colleagues and expanded my professional network on LinkedIn. I build a discipline to reach out to at least one new person or renew a contact every single day.

With most coaching engagements now happening online, I also became a lot more productive with my time. I re-invested most of the saved time back into my coaching engagements – sessions became longer when required, check-ins more frequent, and I was always open to accommodating an extra session, irrespective of the contracted commitments. In tough times such as these, I realised that leaders wanted to be heard, and we could add much more value, just being there for them when they needed a sounding board.

For me, the mantra for surviving and thriving in these times or rather for all times is to stay positive, stay relevant and stay connected! What about you?

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