I was challenged to write about my view of the world after COVID-19. Since I have no capabilities to predict the future, I decided to rather change the wording and write about my view at the moment and what I wish COVID-19 would change in humanity.
We are all trying to take this day by day, fearing the unknown tomorrow, battling to be the better version of ourselves in an atmosphere of uncertainty of a better, wealthier and healthier tomorrow. None of us know when this crisis will see its end, and when or if we will be able to have our “normal lives” back.
We are invaded by negative news daily, we receive WhatsApp’s and emails with the title COVID-19 every hour, or even minute, but we have the power to decide on the amount of information we need to know. I personally decide to choose what I want to read and I try to share positive stories, while doing my best to focus, reinvent myself, our business that rely on services we’re not able to deliver at the moment, networking and staying connected to other businesses, thinking how we will be retaining our staff, managing a family of six, including home activities, house rules, distribution of duties, schooling and routines for our noisy and happy four children between 9 and 16 years old. In the middle of this, I need to be perfect, strong and on top, make it fun… According to my children quarantine should be fun!
Yes, we are all under pressure to be the perfect family role models, but while the perfect household without fights is unrealistic, the truth is, if we have children, we cannot forget that we are their pillar and their well-being depends on ours. So, yes, it’s normal to feel under pressure. Having said that, if I imagine myself in a couple of years looking back, the only memories that come to my mind is seeing the smiles on my children’s faces and sharing unforgettable family moments. There are fights, loud “speakers” all trying to voice themselves one louder than the other, but there are also moments where they want to learn new recipes, share interesting conversations, have fun, play games, do challenges, give us kisses just because we are there for them 24/7 together. And these are the moments that count. For me, since I became a mother 16 years ago, this is the very first time I spend 24 hours a day with my children.
The truth is, we are all in this together, and ultimately, we have the choice of how we want to live during this moment. We can choose to panic, be negative, or take on this opportunity to STOP and live the moment, trying to see some of the positive impact of this “break” in our lives. I try to look at this time as an opportunity to slowdown and realize what is really important and what I really want. One thing I’m sure… it will never be the same… but it does not have to be negative. The question is how we look at it and decide how we want to deal with this reality no matter how difficult it may be. I read a book “The Choice” by Edith Eger, a true story of a woman that overcame the horrors of the Holocaust without allowing this experience to break her. In fact, it helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience. This real story shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.
The Choice is described by Oprah Winfrey as a reminder of what courage looks like in the worst of times and that we all have the ability (the choice) to pay attention to what we’ve lost, or to pay attention to what we still have. If you’re looking for inspiration, read the book.
We have to look for solutions to be able to return to normality, even if our routines will change in order to adapt to a new Era. We need to try to accept the reality, be proactive and focus on overcoming challenges. When I think how I am going to be able to pay my bills, I look around and realize I’m not the only one. We need to work on finding the serenity to accept the things we can’t change, the courage to change what we can and the wisdom to know the difference, one day at the time.
Taking this time to look at yourself is important. For me it become clearer that my purpose is to make the lives of others more meaningful by creating a positive impact through helping them choosing to deal with their challenges with a positive attitude. I am resilient, but I was not born resilient. I learned through life experiences and close role models, mainly including my grandmother who dedicated her life to help the less privileged, my mother for her kindness and ability to adapt to difficult times, my father whom I inherited the positivism and the good stubbornness to defend his ideals impacting the quality of health of so many people, my older brother for his unbelievable resilience fighting a degenerative disease while challenging science for the last 10 years, and my older sister for her brave heart and legacy she is building to change the way society sees and deals with the difference. The list does not stop here, my business partner, my other sister and other impactful woman, true role models I’m lucky to have met and be friends with.
“After the storm comes the bonanza”. This popular statement is so old and true. Crisis moments also present opportunities. Let’s believe and focus on the so expected bonanza. It’s clear that life will not return to normal soon and we´re seeing significant changes worldwide and I believe many of these are here to stay. A new Era is about to start, if it has not yet started.
This virus that caught the world by surprise and kept us contained in our homes has already impacted our relationships within our families, with our work colleagues, neighbors, strangers, society, the outside world… We saw neighborhoods singing at the windows, landlords offering their empty properties to health professionals at no charge, gestures of people showing gratitude and caring about others, civil society sewing masks to offer the less privileged, and so many other waves of solidarity that touched even the most hard-hearted person. In the post-corona world, people’s interactions will change. The values and priorities will change. People will appreciate more what until now they have taken for granted, appreciating more the simple pleasures of life such as smiling at a stranger that smiles back at them on the street, greeting people when entering the lift of a building even not knowing them, observing the surroundings while finding beauty in the most unlikely places, kissing and hugging close family and friends, living outdoors and appreciating Nature, to name a few. If you think this us utopic, I live in Maputo, Mozambique, and I greet strangers every day, I receive compliments from the cashier at the supermarket that liked my shirt, and despite the dirt and confusion some people see, I am able to see colors and beauty everywhere. It is possible. You just need to change your mindset. And your mindset can be trained. We need to adapt to a new world where the human relations are the priority.
We are living the beginning of a new Era – the humanitarian revolution is happening, and it promises to change technology and means of communication. Certainly, the way we interact and do business will change too to a more flexible approach and surely remote work is here to stay. Time will be valued in a different way and the concept of productivity and efficiency will have a different approach. I hope businesses are able to cope and adapt to the new Era, allowing people to manage their time to the most effective work-life balance, while still building profitable businesses.
It is a question of choice. In the middle of this chaos I chose to believe it is possible to overcome this challenge and become a better person. Might not be easy, but one thing I’m sure, I’ll do my best and focus on the positive outcome.