After 70 years of prosperity in the western world, we are once again facing a global challenge.  London Life Coach Hans Schumann shares two key skills that will help us get through this time of crisis.

As Europe is dealing with its second wave of lockdown restrictions, many of us will be wondering when this pandemic will end.  

Will we ever go back to normal?

In this article, I want to talk about two core skills that will help us thrive in this time of adversity: gratitude and adaptability.

I know that many of you will be hugely frustrated that we have gone into a second lockdown. You may even be angry and feel betrayed by the government. I totally get this because for many of us this crisis is more than just an inconvenience. It can be deeply distressing. It can destroy our livelihoods, and maybe it has already destroyed yours.

It’s really important to acknowledge the hardship this pandemic creates for many of us. At the same time, I believe that it’s resourceful to also maintain some degree of perspective. Every generation has its own challenges to master and this pandemic is ours. 

The challenge of our generation

Since the Second World War, we have been living in a Golden Age.  At least in western Europe our lives have been relatively easy if you compare them with those in previous centuries. For example, my family in Germany lost everything four times during the last century:

  • in the First World War
  • in the economic crisis in the 1930s
  • in the Second World War
  • when they had to flee East Germany

Each time they had to start from nothing because they had lost everything.  The Second World War hit Europe the hardest.  It left the world in in tatters; whole cities and economies were destroyed. About 56 million people were killed, with an additional estimated 19 to 28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine.

After 70 years of peace and prosperity, we are now faced with a new challenge; Covid-19 is the challenge of our generation.

A lesson in gratitude

Often it’s only when we lose something that we realise its value.  The Covid-19 crisis can teach us to be grateful in more normal times for things like:

  • having a job where our employer (almost magically) creates an income for us
  • connecting with our loved ones
  • travelling to foreign countries
  • enjoying the wonders of modern cities with theatres, museums and galleries – places that are worthy of investing in 
  • having public spaces like parks, which have been our lifeline during the pandemic – somewhere we could still meet and exercise

We took these things for granted; we even felt entitled to them.

Now those things have been taken away from us again as Europe is experiencing its second period of lockdown restrictions. If you feel lost, lonely or scared, you are not alone.  I have been told by therapists that they can hardly manage the flood of new patients. If you have lost a loved one, your job or your business, you may be suffering hardship just as severely as those that my family suffered during the last century.

Surviving through adaptability 

So what can we do when we are faced with events that are totally outside our control?

The first step is to acknowledge that we can only control what IS in our control: not the crisis, but how we react to it.

This is where the skill of adaptability comes in. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and environments is a key ingredient of success and survival.

We have already had to adapt in many ways during the pandemic. We have learned new ways of:

  • working
  • running a business
  • connecting
  • keeping ourselves fit. 

For some of us it will not stop there.  We may have to reach additional levels of adaptation. 

Maybe you work in one of those industries that have been hit the hardest: aviation, travel, hospitality and the Arts. If that’s you, it could be time to consider moving to an industry that is thriving in this difficult time; for example, technology. I’ve heard stories of teachers and bankers who are learning to code, and artists who have started working in call centres.  

Our growth opportunity

There may be a point where we realise that what got us to where we are right now will not be sufficient to get us through this crisis and beyond. 

This could be a good thing.

Maybe you have been considering a career change for quite a while. You have been yearning for new challenge, a second spring in your life…

…you just needed a push to grow and try new things.

Well, we do have a push now.  

Creating your own hero story

If this was the beginning of your own hero story, what would you like your ending to be? 

I’ve heard great stories of people who have created new opportunities during the COVID 19 crisis; for example, setting up a new online business.

And I’ve also met people who have got stuck in a negative mindset. who told me things like: 

  • “Oh, I’m just not an entrepreneur”
  • “I just don’t have a big enough network”
  • “I’ve never had to look for my job”
  • “I’m an introvert. I can’t do these things.”

These statements are not facts; they are excuses which can keep us in the role of a victim. Even if those statements were true, so what? Should they define us? Just because I’m not an entrepreneur, should this mean that I can’t have a livelihood?

Focusing on options, not barriers

I encourage my clients to move away from focusing on what they CAN’T do and what’s NOT possible, to what they CAN do and what IS possible. 

That’s resourcefulness; a great lesson to take from the Covid-19 pandemic.

What opportunities will YOU create?

Stay safe and healthy.