Having stuffed my finger down the barrel of a toy gun, as you do when you’re six years old, my mum rushed me to Emergency where they swiftly removed it (the gun, not the finger). While I forlornly looked upon the pieces, my mum reminded me it was my own fault and I’d have to play with something else – prompting a swift introduction to inner resolve and resilience. Last week, the hospital was locked down amid coronavirus. Now, everywhere else is slowing down too, from pubs to airlines. The UK is slowly closing down and the need for resilience is evolving and expanding every day.
Working from home, in a space shared with self-isolating children or flatmates, we are all confronted by change. While getting to grips with isolation, we’re simultaneously worrying about elderly parents, pregnant partners, and loved ones who are already unwell. Working from home is no longer just switching on a laptop. It’s managing emotions, digging into your soul.
New need for empathy
We’re all in the same boat. In these difficult times our working lives will look a little different and we must grant each other the empathy this disease demands. Empathy is not the biggest feature of a market economy but that might change, and sooner than we think.
Equally, we must demand resilience from ourselves. Our understanding of resilience began with the people who helped shape us – mums especially. Normally we thank them on Mother’s Day, though this year things will be markedly different. Tough restrictions were announced in the UK on Monday March 16. A frosty fear descended, the UK turned into Narnia and Mother’s Day – coming less than a week after the clampdown – will be colder and lonelier than usual.
Coronavirus is not an isolated blizzard, sweeping through a single region or business sector. Winter is coming. The new normal embraces all of Europe and great swathes of the US. To fend off the chill, we will need to dig into our soul further still and find new depths of self-leadership. It’s what keeps us pursuing the to-do list tomorrow even when we feel tired today. Self-leadership is how we change habits, beliefs and patterns, it’s how we accommodate change.
Transform with Executive Coaching
At Working Voices, we can transform your outdated habits, beliefs and patterns into relevant tools. Our virtual Executive Coaching offers senior leaders a range of options, from transformational coaching to skills-based training in support of behaviours, actions and techniques. Our trainers in London, New York and Hong Kong are experts in their field, operating globally and assisting clients in managing change, regardless of what that might look like.
Whatever else it brings, change will require empathy. In their reaction to coronavirus, we are encouraging clients to actively help their staff adjust to working from home. This means more than tech. It means approaching change from the perspective of wellbeing, a subject close to the heart of Tina Parish. Before she passed away in 2017, Tina was with Working Voices for 12 years. She helped the company grow, she did the work of five people, she became a company director and she happened to be the mother of our CEO Nick Smallman. She was an unfailing optimist, she never gave up, she knew about resilience.
As Mother’s Day approaches, families will be divided. Although it’s harder to visit mums in their 70s these days, ironically their spirit still prevails regardless. Amid the onset of disease, market forces must accommodate an empathetic and considerate way of doing things. It’s OK. We’re allowed to be kinder to each other, I know – I checked with my own mum. For good measure, many of our trainers across Asia, the US and the UK did the same. For Mother’s Day, this is what our mums around the world would like us to remember:
Our mums said:
From Paul’s mother:
“Keep your friendships in good repair.”
“Make the most of the time you have – carpe diem: enjoy those special moments with your family, your children – because nothing lasts forever.”
From Tom’s mother:
“Brush your teeth”; “be yourself” and “listen to people”.
From Julia’s mother:
“Play the music, not the notes.”
My mother’s focus was on technique and practice. My father was more interested in the meaning, the emotion and the musicality.
From Derreck’s grandma:
If I ever showed signs of being tired, my 92yr old Grandma used to say to me: “There’ll be plenty of time for you to sleep when you’re dead my dear!” Her message was live every moment to its fullest.
From Claire’s mum:
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet….”
Also, she says “everything has two uses, which in our throwaway society is always a good challenge.” The first one is a massive part of my personality, so the biggest influence on me.
“Truth resonates without persuasion.”
From Wendy’s mom:
“You can’t change other people. And no one is perfect. So you just have to decide if someone’s flat sides are something you can live with.” It made me a little more accepting of other people’s imperfections. And also gave me permission to be imperfect.
From Claire B’s mum:
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
I believe her ethos came from my 86-year-old Granny who used to always say “If you’re not living life on the edge you’re taking up too much room” …in other words take risks, embrace change and be bold.
From Henry’s mom:
(in Yiddish): “Mentshn zorg aun got lafs.”
The literal translation is: People worry and god laughs.
Whenever I worry, I hear my mom’s voice and remember that the majority of things we worry about don’t come to fruition.
From Maria’s mum:
“You can be anything and everything you want, if you work hard and believe in yourself.”
“Every person deserves respect, every type of work is decent and worthy of appreciation. Be it sweeping the streets or running the country.”
Всяко зло за добро – a Bulgarian saying she often repeated: for everything bad there is something good.
Направи добро и го хвърли в морето – literal translation: Do something good and throw it in the sea. (give unconditionally, with no expectations).
She’s my best friend and the funniest person I know. I’ve also learned a lot from her about resilience, perspective, righteous indignation, assertiveness, living life to the fullest, and (crucially and gratefully) feminism.
My wife’s Grandmother (affectionately known as Gma) says:
“Live life to the full and keep your family close.”
“There will be some people in life that you can’t stand…always be exceptionally nice to them.”
My mum’s best advice was given before our Civil Partnership 12 years ago. For my husband Jonathon she gave him ProPlus tablets to stay calm on the day, and for me, she took me aside and recommended “a few highlights when you get your wedding haircut, it’ll look better in the photos”. Solid advice, all taken.
From Sara’s mum:
“Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.”
“Don’t hang yourself up behind the door waiting for him!” referring to ex boyfriends.
“If you’re going to do it, do it with a happy heart, or don’t bother”, has come in useful when I’ve been reluctant to do something.
From Jennifer’s Momma and Meme:
“Follow your heart but take your brain with you.”
“Remember you are loved.”
“Go get your nails done it will make you feel better.”
“Know your worth.”
From Ben’s mom:
“Don’t be afraid to fail.” That’s the lesson that my mom taught me time and time again.
My mom: “Be kind.”
My dad: “Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may.”
My paternal grandmother: “Expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised.”
My maternal grandfather: “Go first class. You’ll never be disappointed.”
My maternal grandmother: “Oh, the people you see when you don’t have a gun.”
My mum has always encouraged me to pursue things with a lot of passion! So she has always said that complacency is the kiss of death and that you have to constantly push yourself and fight for everything you want to achieve.
My mum always told me to follow my gut, always be true to myself and never pass up an opportunity. If you’re thinking about doing something to just do it and know you tried. It’s better to have failed knowing you tried than to fail because you didn’t.
If I hadn’t listened to that advice I know 100% I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
What’s the best advice your mother has given you?