Musings from the COVID-19 Lockdown Season

Days roll into weeks and the weeks swing by. It’s all so surreal – Listening to the news and the deaths around the world, I’m asking myself, how did we get here? In Lagos, Nigeria where I am currently based, we’ve had 5 weeks of lockdown and currently have a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am.

When it started in China, it seemed far away and we thought it would go away like bird flu, SARS and all others did. Unfortunately, it became more real as Europe started getting infected, then the US, Canada, Nigeria, and countries started shutting their borders.

Despite all the technology and advancement in medicine, it’s ironic that we don’t seem to have a solution for this invisible virus that is ravaging the earth and bringing the world to a standstill,  an unseen enemy we are all hiding from!

It’s a rude wakeup call to think for the first time, we have no one, nor government across the world to look up to. The best we can do now is stay safe, stay at home, pray, and hope things will turn around quickly. Our sense of security or self-reliance as a human race is eroded. I believe we are humbled and world leaders, in particular, must be frustrated.

It is a time to RESET in all areas and there are lessons to be learned in several facets of life. Some that readily come to mind are:

Our frailty – It exposes our frailty as humans. Regardless of the speed, knowledge, and advancement in technology and its various applications, we are still vulnerable and suddenly, we realize we must accept the fact that we don’t know it all.

When countries that have all the military power and technologies are struggling with controlling the pandemic, then we need to know for sure that there is a force beyond us on earth. We must recognize that we are not in absolute control and there is a God greater than humanity.

The Simplicity of life: – we have made life complex – always on the go, dashing back and forth, heavy work schedules, attending events, sometimes extremely ostentatious, little family time, and hardly taking time out to rest. We’re now left with no other choice but to go back to the basics – stay in our homes, bond with our families, and do the best we can with the tools that we have. No parties, no rushing to the office, no social or religious gathering.

It’s interesting how this now makes one realise that maybe some of those things we did and considered important are not so important after all. It’s time to declutter our minds of the unimportant, change our attitudes, give away as much as we can, and simplify our lives. 

The Vanity of life – Vanity upon vanity all is vanity. All those material possessions, what can we do with them now? The exotic cars, fancy 2nd, 3rd homes, the clothes, shoes, and matching accessories, what can they avail us in this pandemic?  It is time to prioritize our lives, focus on the things that matter.

One cannot help but wonder, in the evening of one’s life what will be most important? Over two hundred thousand people have died across the world and still counting; it is obvious that these things hold no eternal value and they fade in comparison to death.  

We were all home for weeks, our clothes, shoes, and accessories were all in our closets. We couldn’t wear them out, we still can’t go for any event, we can’t drive our cars out later than 8pm, and then there is the issue of rising insecurity in several parts of the country. We can’t travel to take a break, no flights, unthinkable!

It is most definitely a call to redefine our lifestyle. We need to reflect and begin to operate from a different mindset- a paradigm shift. All these possessions will grow old, lose value and fade away, but our relationships are forever –family, friends, colleagues, and of course with God. Our time on earth is limited. Let’s make it count.

A time to redefine our priorities – More than ever, there is an urgency to find one’s purpose, define priorities, and begin to work passionately at fulfilling one’s purpose. As we apply ourselves to our everyday tasks, we should prioritize and ensure that it’s the important things of life that we place a priority on.

We should be more deliberate about impacting lives, having good relationships, being a blessing through our work, and generally making the world a better place.

A time to be introspective – reflect on our lives, lifestyles, and interests. What aspects of our lives need to be changed? what do we need to improve? what can we learn from what’s going on? what is the message to us and the world at large? What’s our relationship with God like?

We need to ask ourselves these questions and more so that we can make the necessary changes and come out on top.  It’s a time for personal growth.  

A time of renewal – This is a time to renew our minds, renew relationships, forgive and make amends. Did any of the people that died or those that were on the verge of death but recovered imagine they would go through such an experience? 

I am sure given another chance, some would realise that the things they held on to are not important, while good relationships, the right attitude, being a blessing to someone are more important.

A time to learn and be creative – What new skills can you learn, what classes can you take, particularly in the Digital space? How about health and wellness? How can you keep up with work tools being used today? Can you take advantage of the free classes being offered online?

All those things that you have wanted to do, to write, to learn, new interests to pursue, hobbies, diet, and exercise – now is a good time to start; roll up your sleeves and give them a shot.

A time to get those nagging tasks done – A time to get things we have left on the back burner done. Break them into small tasks, do a little a day. Write down the tasks, schedule them, and if need be, get an accountability partner, to prevent procrastination. Don’t forget to reward yourself after achieving milestones.

A time to connect – More than ever, technology has been a saving grace in this season. It’s the only way we can connect.  Many people are filled with fear and some are lonely, so it’s important we call each other and connect. 

Let’s call friends and family across the world, arrange non-work online meetings. It can be fun and good therapy. It’s amazing how one’s spirit is lifted from a call or a group forum.

Give Back Time – This is also a time to be kind to people in need, particularly those that are more vulnerable in our society and help meet their needs – a call, a gift, food, care for them. Little drops make an ocean, even reaching out to a friend in need, calling someone to check on them all add up. Let’s all rise and do something in our circle of influence and beyond

As we pray for and anticipate the end of the coronavirus, and a revamp of the economy, we need to be thoughtful and deliberate about our actions. We shouldn’t just get back on the fast lane, having been forced to apply brakes, we have had time to reflect and reset,  we should not go back to our old ways but begin to place a priority on the important things in life.

We need to build quality relationships,  be sensitive to the needs of others, always be ready to lend a helping hand, learn to live simple lives without layers of gold and look at life from a new lens.

It is important to remember that we are only here temporarily, we should, therefore, strive to leave a legacy that will outlive us, influence our generation and future generations.

Building New Habits

Building New Habits In The New Year

We put up a post last week about making new habits. This week we would like to elaborate on it.

Habits are important parts of our lives, they determine a lot of things about us, ranging from our health to our success; and ultimately, who we are. 

Good habits are important because they make you a better person. Good habits when accustomed to, become good behaviors, lifestyle, ethics, and practices that consequently result in making you the best version of yourself.

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. However, how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Today, we will talk about the steps to follow in building a new and good habit.

You can change any bad habit you already have by following these steps.

Take Baby Steps

A very important part of new habit development is to make micro-commitments and focus on small wins. Start small, don’t set big goals and targets when creating new habits, it can get overwhelming and discouraging.

The idea here is to create very little commitment that can be done easily and then consistently build on your success. It’s more important to stay consistent with a little commitment needed than it is to hit a huge target. 

Examples of baby steps in your habit changing journey include: taking a five-minute walk every day, drinking a glass of water, writing a paragraph of your book, taking one short course in line with your career, reading a page of a book you’ve always wanted to read.

Commit For A Minimum of 30 Days

Some people say it takes three weeks (21 days) to build a habit. Others claim it takes up to 66 days. The truth is, how long it takes to make something habitual depends on the habit, the person in question, and a few other things.

In all of these, we believe a minimum of 30 days, which is well in-between all other claims should do justice to any new habit you’re trying to create.

However, just ensure you are disciplined and consistent.

Have An Accountability Checker

There will be days when you see no point in continuing your journey towards building a new habit. There will be days when you are not naturally motivated to carry on with your task. Your accountability checker’s job is to check your level of progress and consistency.

Your accountability checker could be a person, an activity or even a reward. However, your best option here would be another person, as this is a factor that is outside your control and can check you effectively.

Reward Your Small Wins

Building a new habit should not be a boring journey. You can make it fun! Ensure you reward your small wins after each one. This will help you realize how much progress you’ve made and keep you a lot more motivated to carry on.

Fix Your Mind On The New And Forget The Old

As you keep winning, your challenges will keep growing. You will need to change your state of mind about yourself, the environment, and the people that relate to your new habit.

It doesn’t get easier, you get tougher. Your mind will be your greatest asset, you have to keep your mind on growth.

Straying from an old habit is not an easy task. Consistency will be your greatest weapon.

Finally, you should know that you don’t need a new year or season to bring changes to your life. You can change and create new habits whenever you want.

So go all out and win. You have our permission.

How to stay productive when you’re between jobs

How To Stay Productive When You’re Between Jobs

Sometime in your career, you will find yourself between jobs, in other words, unemployed. It happens to the best of us for diverse reasons.

A gap in your resume does not have to be a red flag to your new employer.

So, what should you do when you’re between jobs? How should you spend your time?

Productivity is a habit, and it cuts across disciplines and fields of work. In essence, you don’t have to be employed before you are productive.

If you read up to here, it means you will eventually learn how to fully maximize your unemployed phase.

Any two of the tips below will help you use your unemployed-phase productively:

Take a Class

Acquire a skill. Learn something new. Learning something new gives an immeasurable advantage. It broadens your knowledge base; it can even get you a new and better job by adding to your skillset.

The advent of E-learning has made learning a lot easier to accomplish and more efficient. You can now take courses online and get certifications your new employer will recognize.

Here are some of the platforms you can take online courses EDX, Udemy, Cousera, Shaw Academy, Hubspot Academy, Skillshare.

Volunteer

Most people think volunteering means you’re desperate. On the flip side, volunteering does better to you than harm when you’re between jobs.

The worst that will happen to you is that you will have a low income. As a matter of fact, the workplace is more humane now than before, any organization that will accept you as a volunteer will take of your basic needs. Even if that doesn’t happen, volunteering gives you the needed experience and fills the gap of unemployment.

Follow a Job Platform

Job platforms increase your opportunity of finding a job. They keep you posted with new jobs that might be beneficial to you. Some even do as good as notify you of jobs around you. Job platforms to follow and register on include Recruiterng, Jobgurus, Myjobbag, Jobberman.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a platform where a lot of employers scout and search for talents for employment. A lot of candidate selection takes place on LinkedIn. Optimizing your LinkedIn will increase your chances of being found when there is a search.

Start a Business

Not everyone is cut out for being an entrepreneur. However, your unemployment window is a great time to find out.

To us, it is a win-win situation. If you start a business and discover you are not an entrepreneur, you would have gained certain negotiation and communication skills that will aid your new job; then the business can transform into a ‘side-hustle’ and become your extra source of income.

The whole idea of using your unemployment window for the above and more is to stay productive, it is to use that space of time of being out-of-job for something that will not just fill the space in your CV, but make you a better version of yourself.

So, ensure to do what you can!

Building a great workplace structure

DEVELOPING A GREAT WORKPLACE CULTURE

There was a time when the brand value of an organization and remuneration paid to workers made an organization a desirable place to work.

However, today’s workplace has evolved to the extent that fat pay cheques, generous tips, and bonuses can no longer attract or keep employees, especially when the workplace is toxic. Sadly, organizations lose great talents because of their failure to put a premium on developing a healthy organizational culture.

A healthy workplace culture is what attracts talents and imbues them with a sense of loyalty which binds them to the organization and makes them continually give their best to ensure the company stays in business and is profitable.

What constitutes workplace culture? you might ask; Workplace culture refers to those intangible attributes of an organization that makes it a great or toxic place to work in, these attributes are largely defined by the ideology that drives the organization.

These ideologies are often reflected how employees related to management as well as one another. Inclusivity Consultant and Behavioural Scientist, Dr Pragyal Agarwal maintains that positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce.

Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive work environment reduces stress in employees. The following are simple ways an organization can improve their workplace culture:

1. Communication and collaboration: a workplace culture that values and encourages open and honest communication, feedback and teamwork are all vital for improving workplace culture.

2. Continued learning opportunities: knowledge sharing, brainstorming sessions as well as social interactions within the office all add up to improve the workplace culture of an organization.

3. All-inclusive work environment: value, support and encourage all employees regardless of gender, ethnicity, social or religious orientation. All employees should have equal access to growth and advancement opportunities, bonuses and general goodwill.

4. Establish trust: employees should be able to confide in management and have honest conversations with one another without fear of being judged. Again, trust that you have a good and dependable team.

5. Make onboarding of new staff easy and warm: get an old and friendly team member to take the new staff around and acquaint them with the rest of the team, answer their questions and help set up their workspace. A great workplace culture takes time, effort and dedication to develop, but it is worth it. The first step is to have frank a conversation with your team and communicate your vision for the company to them in clear terms and ensure they identify with it; once this is achieved, the rest will easily fall in place.