One year on: positive lessons from a pandemic

It’s been a tough year and times continue to be hard for many. However, there’s lots of lessons we can take out of this age.


I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe it’s been over a year since the first COVID case was reported in Australia at the end of January 2020 (although it feels like forever at the same time). This time last year, we were in an in-between period – before the world health organisation declared a pandemic and lockdowns began in Australia – and feeling uncertainty, low-level panic, and disbelief.

Granted, things aren’t much better now in many parts of the world (I’m grateful for relative normality where I live), but at the very least we now have knowledge. We are used to wearing masks, checking into venues, keeping our distance, finding ways to communicate.

When I look back at the past year, it’s easy to think of the bad. So, I thought I’d reflect on the positives that have emerged for me and will be valuable leadership lessons going forward.

  1. Slowing down and connecting

Last Easter, I wrote about how the pandemic had forced us to slow down and spend time as a family. Most recently, we learnt this lesson again when we on the Northern Beaches of Sydney were locked down, rather suddenly, over Christmas. It was sad for many who couldn’t be travel to be with their families, but we did appreciate the people who were around us. Some locals got together (we were allowed 12!) and had ‘orphans’ Christmases to keep each other company.

It’s also forced us to think about connection as we adjust our lives to the pandemic. Once the normal activities of our lives such as meeting a friend for coffee become disrupted, we appreciate them more. And, everyone has had to make a conscious effort to engage with others in different ways.

  1. Community is important

In the same way that horses have an instinctive need to live in herds, we humans need others too!

It’s been lovely to see communities pulling together to help each other through the pandemic. Again, this happened here over the Christmas lockdown. People braved long queues to get tested in large numbers and checked in on neighbours who were lonely and cut off from family.

You’ll often see notes on our local community board, offering to pick up groceries and run other errands for the vulnerable!

  1. Learning should be continual

The pandemic age has had an impact on the way we learn. Consumption of online content doubled in 2020, and online courses were offered to help people acquire new skills and keep up with the job market.

We saw this in our own business. As we pivoted courses online, we had people enrolling who’d been meaning to do the course for years, but never had the time to travel here in person.  

Learning is always valuable, even when it’s a skill that’s not directly related to the job you do, like photography or cooking.

And of course, negotiating technology like video conferencing has been a valuable (if painful) learning experience!

  1. It’s essential to know how to adapt

We’ve all become familiar with the term ‘pivot’ and many, including us, have had to change the way we work and run our businesses. However, learning to survive in a changing world is a skill that will stay with us forever.

My horses are very good at keeping me grounded during times of change, as are family and friends. I hope you find the same.

  1. Be grateful

The pandemic has been a reminder that I’m very lucky to live where I do. Not everything is back to normal, but we’re doing very well by comparison. I’m well, as are my loved ones, so I’m grateful.

What have you learnt in the past year? Let me know in the comments.

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