When I remember the day when the Cabinet Secretary of Education gave the directive that we would be looking at 2021 as a repeat of this year, I thought to myself how I could reframe this situation. I have experienced the pain and the struggles that we have all had of working from home, of losing an income or losing a job. If you are running a Small Medium Enterprise (SME), Medium-Sized Enterprise (MSE), or a large corporation, your strategy is now a life board strategy, fighting for bare survival. I have felt the pain. I have felt the anger. And now, I have come to the point of acceptance and I am reinventing my response to the situation as it continues to evolve. After all, a wise person said the only constant thing is change.

I recall some parents agonizing about how they will speak to their children to help them accept this new reality. It got me thinking, that for the Government to make that decision they were taking into consideration the many children who since March 2020 have not had access to an exercise book or a textbook because the public school they attend is the one that keeps the few books available. I started reflecting about that child who has absolutely no chance of accessing a digital class in any way, form, or shape as the school cannot even fathom how to do that because they are operating on the bare minimum - possibly under a tree, thatched roof or in a shed. I then started sharing with them some of my thoughts on how to reframe a difficult situation into an opportunity for growth. Here are 5 insights you can consider:

1. Get comfortable with discomfort.

This ambiguity is painful and unprecedented as we have never experienced this before. However, in a sense compared to history this year has been hard but not as harrowing as the times of the 1st & 2nd World War. If you have had the privilege of knowing people who have gone through the heartbreaking and dehumanizing experience of a war or genocide then you will understand that this Covid war we are in, is a global crisis, but in no way does it compare to hankering down and actually trying to miss aimless bullets that are being shot around you. The situation we are in does not compare with the war experience of trying to escape to get to the next town as many refugees from Somalia, Syria and other war-torn nations have experienced. Could we choose to be more grateful so as to raise our ability to deal with the discomfort?

2. Don’t waste this crisis time

As I was thinking about my responses to this situation, I remember sharing with my husband that I know that our children are watching us very closely to see our reactions to this news. Children have a way of having you under the microscope, so we need to be mindful in our response. We discussed that if we became melodramatic about this situation, then we were going to pass on that very negative energy to them. We then started to apply a reframing perspective as we like to do with my team at Breakthrough Leadership Transformation and reminded ourselves that we should never waste a good (bad?) crisis. No matter how hard it is there are some real lessons to be learnt from this crisis. The habit of losing the pain and keeping the lesson is a hard one to develop but a worthwhile life skill. Which lessons do you intend to learn and internalize from this year?

3. Become more human

This crisis has given us an opportunity to become more human it has actually equalized people all over the world in ways that we had not anticipated. It has given a lot of busy parents an opportunity to reclaim their relationship with their children. I am reminded of a gentleman who is a senior leader who was telling me that he really did not know his children until this pandemic and now he realizes what kind of vain things he was chasing in the process of being a workaholic. He looks back at the long hours he was absent from home and how not helping his wife to parent was a lack of justice. By being more present, he can now see the character strengths of his children and is trying to do course correction on their flaws while affirming them and giving them quantity time which amounts to quality time.

4. Make this a season of unlearning, relearning, and learning

I want to commend all the schools that have really tried in one way or the other to keep learning continuing in some way. This is because we know that if your mind is idle with nothing positive being fed into it, then it actually degenerates, and the law of gravity metaphorically sets in and we lose even what we had learned due to lack of practice. I was asking our children how they felt about this situation and they responded with a question asking me how I felt about it. And as I responded I remembered we are the emotional barometer for our children, and we need to choose our words very carefully. This is what we then told them: “You are not repeating this year, as a matter of fact, you cannot ever repeat even the last minute that has just elapsed. Even when people repeat a class if one has failed it, the experience of relearning is very different. This is an opportunity to recalibrate, reinvent, rethink, and deepen your learning. This is your chance to deepen your knowledge and to grow new skills that you probably had not considered. These new skills and attitudes will be needed in the future of work and the new reality.”

5. Build a stronger work ethic and family culture

These children are our future leaders, this is the time for us to learn how to read, analyse, and critically develop new skills together. It is possibly the time to have a book club in the home and look at the highlights of a simple story or book. We can assess what it is teaching us about the human spirit, human tone, about learning how to raise boundaries, learning how to act with the right intention, and learning how to make good decisions. I want to challenge many of us parents. The home is the first school of virtues and leadership. I know that many times we spend too much time working and engaging with our digital gadgets, thinking about meet your budgetary needs which is very important. How about taking this Breakthrough challenge? Use this time we have as if it is a precious gift. Let us intentionally take this time to deepen our connections with our families and to strengthen our self-awareness and self- leadership. Challenge accepted?