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    Message of the week 08 - 12 June 2020

    Week 24 | 2020
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    Extraordinary situation asks us to also take extraordinary care

    Lockdown may be gradually lifting, but the reality is that our spirits may not be. We are in a period of acute flux that will last longer than the lockdown, so let's not hold our breath or wait until this is over. This IS our life now and this extraordinary situation asks us to also take extraordinary care of our own physical and mental wellbeing.

    According to an interview by Forbes with CNN journalist Lisa Ling, the aftershock of COVID-19 in terms of anxiety, grief, complicated depression and post-traumatic stress disorder is set to result in a mental health pandemic of its own.

    In another article from Bizcommunity, Matita Shabalala points out, “As the call to 'flatten the curve' reaches a crescendo, it is also important that we find ways to flatten our own psychological curve, to stave off a potentially damaging mental health disaster.”

    Eliminating the stigma around mental health has been an ongoing conversation for years. Now that everyone is experiencing some form of anxiety, stress and fear, we need to destigmatize mental illness and find ways of coping.

    I am reminded of a Navy fighter pilot and author, James Stockdale, who was shot down and imprisoned in the Vietnam War. He devised ways to keep his morale high by sticking to a simple yet well-defined routine. In his book Courage under Fire, he says “Work with what you have control of and you’ll have your hands full.”

    Following Jim Collins’ (Author of Good to Great) discussion with Stockdale after his release from prison, Collins popularised a concept called the Stockdale Paradox which boils down to the need to balance realism with optimism.

    I agree. I personally believe that optimism is important, and that it needs to be balanced with reality. We need to acknowledge and be realistic about the current situation without falling into despair and the key to this is to focus on what we can control.

    The simplest explanation of the Stockdale Paradox, is it’s the idea of hoping for the best, but acknowledging and preparing for the worst. What this means is taking ownership and acknowledging what part of the problem we can take responsibility for and how we can develop endurance. On a personal level, whilst sleep, exercise, healthy eating and minimising social media consumption are overstated in the media, they are underestimated and underutilised. We can control our physical immunity and our mental resilience through consistently doing these four simple things.  

    On a business level, take ownership of the things you can control and take solice in knowing that throughout history, people in very challenging and painful circumstances have been able to draw on their inner strength and resilience, and pull together to get through hardship. 

    Stay Strong!

    Sadiyah Rasdien - Senior Manager: Finance - KYOCERA Document Solutions South Africa

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