The covid-19 pandemic has shown us what we have always known but mostly choose to ignore; that we live in uncertainty and unexpected events can happen at any time. The next half century will have many of these unexpected events relating to disease, climate, famine, war, and pollution. The question that we all face now is are we open to learning from this, or are we going to pretend the new normal is more of the same, swept under a better rug.
My experience during the pandemic has underlined an intuition that I have had for few years now as both the manager of a household, as well as strategist for large corporates — that business need to shift its focus from the commercial fantasy of the stock market and winning in an industry, to a focus on helping households and communities to thrive, in an increasingly fragile ecology.
The unexpected happens
For me, as an Australian living in France during the pandemic with a Polish husband, I feel like the scales have fallen from my eyes. Growing up in the ‘lucky country’ and benefiting from many generations of folk living without war on our shores (unless you are indigenous Australian), I inherited a nativity and optimism, and could never really understand why my husband would see so much risk in the world, which I mis-read as negativity. His cultural and psychological inheritance is different to mine. His immediate family lived part of their lives under communism where individuals could not speak their truth without fear.
When the pandemic hit, and we watched Macron talk to the French nation about the war on covid-19, I finally understood and connected to the collective knowing that bad things can and do happen to societies. For the first time I felt part of a collective fear at a very deep level, the fear of death and threat to loved ones and the fear of dying alone.
Now as I am writing this post, it is June and we are emerging slowly from lockdown and school closure. When the sun shines here it feels like the slow days of European summer are upon us, and as we walk through the forest, play and swim in the river and bask in the golden light of the long warm evenings we feel held and healed by being in nature. But go anywhere where there are people, and there is anxiety. There are masks, procedures and hand gel, and…