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EntrepreneurshipInnovationMindset

Living Gratefully in Times of COVID-19

As bad as the current global Corona pandemic is, to a certain extent such moments in history are inevitable. For many of us, this is certainly the biggest disruption of life and the toughest challenge we have faced so far.

Despite the lockdowns and different measures taken by many governments to this date, we are also observing positive changes, both in our society and individually. Changes that I am personally glad to see.

We used to live in a world where progress was measured in terms like bigger, faster, richer, higher, more. We do not anymore. At least not for now. Who of you didn’t have the feeling sometimes of living a superficial, overly performance-based, often very shallow life? I certainly did, but maybe we have the opportunity to change that now.

Also, with Moonshot Pirates, we are all in for aiming high, dreaming big, setting your path for life, and succeeding on your terms. But now, more than ever, we have to remind ourselves about our values and about what’s actually important in life.

A few weeks ago Italy got locked down, followed by Austria and many other countries just a few days later. Following conversations on social media since then, I have been surprised by the creativity of inventive minds and the kindness of people all around the world. And it makes me feel deeply grateful for our reaction as a society and the progress we are making.

Our reaction as a society

Who would have thought to see such a great case of solidarity amongst strangers? It starts with little things, such as younger people staying at home to avoid putting the elderly at risk. And even more, seeing them helping their neighbors by running errands for them, who might be at risk when leaving their homes.

There have been many more beautiful signs of humanity. Who would have ever expected to see police officers singing and dancing on the streets in Mallorca?

Or entire blocks in locked down Italian cities jamming and singing together to express unity. Be it singing a beloved anthem about their fair city of Siena…

https://twitter.com/SARS_COVID19/status/1238289996601122817?s=20

… or jamming with instruments and multiple vocalists, as in this video from Sicily:

It is beautiful to see how such a crisis brings people together.

Then, there is the little fact that Corona is probably the single greatest thing that could have happened to our fight against climate change. The decline in economic activity in i.e. China was visible from space after just a few days of lockdown. Satellites of the European Copernicus agency have registered an unusual drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels. 

These NASA satellite pictures have been shared multiple times since.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions in January (left) and February this year (right).   –   Copyright  NASA Earth Observatory by Joshua Stevens, using modified Copernicus Sentinel 5P data processed by the European Space Agency.

How we respond as innovators

Many of us were forced to change the way we work. Companies that followed very rigid and conservative structures, often claiming home-office is not viable, had to reconsider fundamental beliefs. It is beautiful to see the inventive spirit of people mastering new challenges such as home-office and home-schooling (for those in education) and implementing potential new ways of work for the future.

The forced changes are showing us how much time we have wasted in recent times on meetings and tasks that could have been done remotely by using technologies. The quality of life seemed to improve in an instant. What can we learn from those changes? What are we willing to keep after Corona?

We are without doubts currently witnessing challenging times for businesses and the economy as a whole. But at the same time, it is the perfect time to rethink processes and gridlocked structures. “We’ve always done it this way” doesn’t work anymore. I believe now is the time to think differently and to reconsider entire business models. And I also believe the brave ones will have a great chance to turn the current crisis into a successful period of their company’s history.

Impact on our personal lives

From another perspective, we see our lives radically slowing down. Suddenly, we find time for ourselves. Without the morning commute, we have more time to take care of our bodies and minds. What a surprisingly pleasant feeling it is to start the day without stress. 

Our friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances appreciate us taking time for a call and vice versa. We tended to use simple texts, WhatsApp messages, and Slack to be efficient in our daily work routine. Suddenly, we appreciate a simple short informal chat as a refreshing addition to our oddly weird lives right now. 

A dear friend told me recently how much he appreciated me calling him, instead of texting. To be honest, I talked to my parents and my family more often in the past 7 days than in the 3 months before.

But what about the time after Corona?

It is for sure not going to stay like this. Still, one question keeps coming up: What is life going to be like after Corona? Will it be as it was before the breakout? Very unlikely. We will get out on the other side, there’s no doubt. Maybe we’ll get out stronger. Maybe with a different perspective on life itself. Maybe with a redefined set of values. 

The world as we know it is currently dissolving. But a new world is forming behind that, a new world we can only anticipate at the moment.

– Matthias Horx

My observations of the past few days are nurturing the hope for such a scenario. As Matthias Horx, a well known German futurist, mentioned in his most recent column: The world as we know it is currently dissolving. But a new world is forming behind that, a new world we can only anticipate at the moment.

The current situation is not in our hands at the moment, at least not individually. The only thing everyone can currently do is follow the instructions of our leaders and contribute to slowing down the spread of the virus. But what we do have in our hands is the way we deal with the current situation. 

What are you grateful for?

As my friend and mentor, Peter Sage, keeps saying: You can’t change the content, you can only change the context. So, let us stop complaining about the limitations of our current situation. Instead, let us appreciate this newly-found beauty of togetherness, solidarity, support, slowing down, mindfulness and the simple fact of being well.

You can’t change the content, you can only change the context.

– Peter Sage

As pirates, we are always aiming for new heights, for the moonshot. But we also need to be mindful and grateful for what we have. To appreciate the moment. To appreciate every experience and every little lesson provided to us.

Life is a growth-centric experience, not a comfort-centric experience.

– Peter Sage

This is certainly a difficult time. But I believe we are growing individually and collectively more than ever before. And at this moment, I am deeply grateful for the experiences and the new chances provided during the past few days and weeks. 

How do you deal with this new situation?

How do you turn this challenge around and use it in your favour?

Where do you see the chances for your future?

How do you contribute?

What have you learned so far?

What would you like to keep after the time of Corona? 

Approaching a challenge with a sense of gratitude is a whole new game.

What are you grateful for?

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