"You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it's important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages." - Michelle Obama, former U.S. First Lady
As we go into the summer, there is continuing uncertainty and concern amid COVID-19. Some people are grappling with recent unemployment; others are having to make difficult decisions at work. Many families are working through tensions at home while also trying to help each other transition back into school and relative normalcy. A vaccine for COVID-19 is - at best - months away, so it is likely this cycle of disruption to our everyday routines and interactions will become our new normal for the foreseeable future. While the acceptance of this reality may seem difficult, it is also an opportunity to recalibrate our thinking and understand these challenges as a powerful catalyst for positive change.
Stress and insecurity can exacerbate or cause mental health issues and this pandemic is a case in point, with women, and especially mothers, particularly affected. We know that women take on disproportionate amounts of care, domestic tasks and emotional labour at the best of times. These responsibilities, coupled with the fear around COVID-19 and what the future holds, can cause anxiety and panic.
To thrive in uncertain and chaotic times, it is crucial to strip away extraneous detail and re-engage with core values. Focusing on these values, thoughtfully and with empathy, gives clarity and enables organisations and individuals to achieve their purpose.
As an organisation, it can mean stepping back, reminding teams of their common purpose and unifying them behind it. Leading with calm and with a clear vision all while being mindful of external realities and employee anxieties means that it is possible to rethink priorities, solve problems, motivate talent and identify opportunities.
At TWF, as the health crisis escalated we took a step back to understand the needs of the communities we work with and how we could best serve them under COVID-19 restrictions. We adapted our programmes, advocacy and events to suit the unprecedented situation, focusing on continuing to deliver our message and deciding where would have the most impact to drive forward our vision. This process only reaffirmed and tightened our core mission: to create a gender equal city.
As an individual, it’s important to engage in a similar exercise to centre yourself and find equilibrium. At TWF, our staff are doing this by taking care of our minds and our bodies, connecting with people who share our values and energise us. We are amplifying positive stories, while remaining realistic and acknowledging the difficulty we find ourselves in and the need to consider alternative ways forward. Some are finding purpose by giving back to their communities in various ways. Most of all, we are being kind to ourselves, whether we want to do nothing or try something new. With calmness and focus, we are able to find equilibrium in this deeply worrying time.
We hope you carve out space for reflection this summer and focus on your needs and values that help you stay centred.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org
PS Connect is moving to our summer schedule and will be bi-weekly through August 19.