My next blog post was originally intended to be about the first leadership lesson I learned, and how I try to live it every day but then Phase 2 of Covid19 happened. We had got through Phase 1 as a family, and together came out of Lockdown. We had made it to our annual holiday in Whitby in the North East of England and, as far as we were concerned, we could now face anything both as a family and at work.

Once again, our resilience is being tested and I have found that coming up with 20 Personal Tips helps me focus on what is important and what is not.

It might be that you are doing some of these things already – good! If there is just one tip that you had not tried or thought of and would wish to adopt – great!

These tips come from observing our daughter Bettina, who copes with Autism and a Learning disability, and from being a tight-knit family who constantly listen and talk to each other.

Our Top 20 Tips (in no particular order)

  1. Find your place of tranquillity. For me it is in a nature reserve close to where we live. I go there for runs and when I practice my hill training. Often when it rains and it is cold, and I am the only one there, I imagine I am 30 again and in the Army. It is sublime and I come home totally refreshed and often with solutions to issues that have been troubling me.
  2. Find your Happy place for me it is a family visit to Whitby. Therefore, it is important to have a happy place now more than ever. Do you have a happy place?
  3. Find your place of mindfulness. I often observe Bettina quietly thinking. Recently there was no noise coming from her bedroom and it was very quiet. As we are used to hearing noise, usually laughter, we were worried. Bettina copes with epilepsy so had she had a seizure? Joyce asked if she was ok (from outside her bedroom) she responded with “I am thinking”
  4. Experiencing Nature. Bettina explores life with the intention of experiencing the unity of sky, earth, trees, grass and flowers and the whole sense of life. She loves the whole experience – the sounds of nature, birds singing, or the breeze rustling her hair. During Covid19 in both phases, I have tried to be like Bettina as I soak up nature when I am out walking or going for a run. It makes me feel stronger and happier.
  5. “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up”. Mark Twain. We do this with random acts of kindness. Why not send a greeting to a colleague or someone you have not been in touch with for a while? I do this at least once a day.
  6. Place all your energies into your circle of influence rather than your circle of concern. During a long car journey, I listened to the audio of ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey (a wonderful gift from a colleague). Proactive people focus their time and energy on those things they can control and influence rather than the Circle of Concern such as the economy or a company merger which they have no control over.
  7. Write down three things you are grateful for every day. My favourite quote is from Joyce, my wife who perfectly sums up how we feel as a family “if you woke up this morning safe and sound, with all your loved ones safe and food and water, why wouldn’t you feel grateful?”
    Jennifer my daughter, bought me a Gratitude Journal for my birthday. I recommend completing one too. I find we are often luckier than we think.
  8. Do something different. Try something new! During Covid19 I put together an E-Wellness Newsletter for my organisation which I publish on a Monday and Friday. This is something I have thoroughly enjoyed doing, I may not have thought of it if had I not heard that some colleagues were struggling with loneliness, mental strength, or felt their worries and concerns were not being heard. Take this opportunity to reinvent yourself.
  9. Find things to boost your self-esteem. This pandemic with all its restrictions, including isolation, can cause you to doubt your abilities. I have observed Bettina actively looking for things that will make her feel good, including reading a difficult book, completing a complex puzzle, managing a new physical task without support. I try and follow her example, so for me it has been trying to master a new piece of technology.
  10. Hang out with Happy People. It seems an obvious thing to do, fortunately I had already learned this lesson before this contagion. Happy people lift your spirits and bring light into your day.
  11. Listen to Happy People. I am careful with what I watch on TV, listen to on the radio and what I read on Social Media. I only catch the headlines on TV before switching off the news. I only listen to Drivetime on Radio 5 (because one of the presenters makes me laugh out loud – which can be odd when sitting in a traffic jam) and I follow people on Twitter who make me feel good such as Dr Radha @DrRadhaModgil I often share her messages in my Wellbeing Posts. Here is one of them:
  12. Remember things could be worse! As Joyce reminds me if I get things out of perspective. “Steve, has World War 3 broken out?” No, you are quite right Joyce it hasn’t (despite my best efforts in 1983 which is another story for another time). As a family “We were together. I forget the rest.” —Walt Whitman
  13. Start a Scrapbook of memories. There are things and events that I will happily recall from these times we are living through that I will smile about. One that springs to mind is that each morning during the full lock down, Bettina and I explored our locality for our fitness walks. This time was precious, filled with laughter and fun. Here are some pictures of us together, from our scrapbook on Instagram
  14. Take some ‘Command Time’. I start work at 5.30am each morning (this is not a tip by the way) and working from home it would be easy not to move from my screen throughout the day answering emails and what feels like relentless meetings online. So, it is important to get out, either for a walk or a run for at least 30 minutes. I block off a section in my calendar to do this, to think creatively or ponder on a problem. Afterall, who gets their best ideas sitting in front of a screen or for that matter sitting in an office?
  15. Laugh at the absurd. I am standing outside of Marks & Spencer’s waiting for Joyce, and I am pretty sure I have just seen a man leaving the shop, wearing a pair of underpants in lieu of his face covering. A few minutes later Joyce tells me she has just seen a man in M&S wearing his underpants as a face mask! I didn’t imagine it. It would be easy to take everything very seriously now, so it helps if you can laugh at the absurd.
  16. Escape into a book. A colleague mentioned this is something he had taken the opportunity to do over the last 6 months. I think this is a wonderful form of escapism and it is something that is practiced by everyone in the Raw household. I have read fourteen books so far this year (yes, I keep a log).
  17. Be a role model for those around you. How will you like to be remembered long after this pandemic has ended? Put others first.
  18. Eat Cake! It works for the Raw family! Here are some tips and ideas from Joyce our Master Baker at Eat cake and it will make you feel happy, I guarantee it. It could make you fat too, but who cares? You have an excuse – you are living through Covid19.
  19. Write a Mission Statement for your Family. Stephen Covey (author) describes a family mission statement as “a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about—what it is you really want to do and be—and the principles you choose to govern your family life.” A family mission statement can be a tool to help your children remember and reflect on the core values and goals you have established as a family.
  20. Seize the Day. This is Joyce’s message to her family and one which she has always led by example. To make the most of today by achieving fulfilment in a philosophical and spiritual sense. To attack the day’s efforts with vigour and purpose.

I started this article by mentioning my original intention was to write a blog post about what was the first leadership lesson I learned. I will make it my next piece.  For clues about what it is, you will find it embedded in these tips.

I hope these 20 tips may help navigate your way through Phase 2 of Covid19.

‘Though much is taken, much abides, and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are:

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

From Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1833)