At the end of the 1994 animated film The Lion King there is a scene of rain falling onto fire-ravaged grasslands after battle. The next scene is of the same land but now with green grass and foliage.
That sequence came to mind while I reflected back on lockdown. Of life growing and flourishing following a ruinous situation.
In March 2020 the unthinkable happened and COVID-19 became a pandemic that threatened all New Zealanders. Confronting and intense emotions were felt by many – anxiety, vulnerability, apprehension.
But throughout the challenges came extraordinary resilience and learning. The strength of character and resolve shown by New Zealanders in spite of the circumstances was remarkable. Kiwis banded together to support each other and the persistently used term “team of 5 million” emerged.
Over lockdown many people re-discovered their local communities. In spite of the required social distancing, my local streets had in fact become more social. Families had more quality time to spend together without the rush of traffic and scheduled activities. I heard many tales of people looking out for others – such as seniors and people living alone. Dropping of groceries and talking over fences. Kiwis also came together to get behind local businesses who they knew were suffering.
From adversity there also came the opportunity for growth. Businesses were forced to look at new potential ways of doing things and had to undertake changes in mindset. Some of our clients have had to pivot their businesses in extreme ways. I marvel at successes that have come out of a situation of hardship.
There were clients who had to drastically change the way they did business over lockdown. Moving to entirely online models and relying on technology and supports to be able to bring in at least some income over the shutdown period in order to survive. And the new skills and opportunities created because of that change have meant they can now continue to offer greater flexibilities to customers moving forward.
There is my client who experienced a drop in sales to 7% and continues to be adversely impacted. That client is now focusing on new product development and is incredibly positive about the future.
Businesses with commercial office space have been re-thinking the way they manage staff and office space requirements. Working from home has become increasingly popular and many businesses are offering staff more freedom to work from home and manage their own work requirements.
In reflecting on the consequences of lockdown and COVID-19 I cannot ignore the hardships that many New Zealanders have faced and continue to face. In light of the continued suffering around the world, there is great consolation in residing in New Zealand. Although in itself that does not make hardship easier, it can have the ability to positively affect mindset and perspective. Words like gratitude and thankfulness have come into more frequent use given our privileged position in a world in need.
Ultimately when I reflect on lockdown it leads me to consider our future as a nation. We have been given the opportunity to look forward with resilience, hope, and optimism.
I have great faith that our nation will grow and that goodness will continue to follow from these events.