The Many Faces of Lockdown

Posted on 10th August 2020

Apprehension, relief, action, frustration, dejection, gratitude, contemplation, inspiration, optimism: we’ve all been on a roller coaster of emotions – but, as our feet touch the floor again, what will we remember most from this journey?

Here’s a few of my key takeaways.


Embrace quiet moments
Like many people, my business took an immediate hit as soon as formal lockdown was declared. Truth be told, the slow down had started a couple of weeks earlier as clients began to shift attention from long term strategy, to the more urgent measures necessary to protect their business. Concern for personal safety, and the wellbeing of loved ones, also became more pressing for us all, compounded by a growing apprehension of the economic turmoil ahead.

In many ways though, lockdown was a relief; 

  • relief from the tension of not knowing if, or when, change was coming, and how that would affect me, personally
  • relief from the burden of deciding, day by changing day, whether or not it was safe to continue  
  • relief to be temporarily excused the myriad admin tasks that clutter my inbox and interrupt my thinking, knowing that, what mattered most right now, was allowing space for a new routine to emerge

After all the uncertainty, the quiet of lockdown offered time to think.

Listen to what your instincts are telling you You can take the girl out of the NHS, but you can’t take the NHS out of the girl! Lockdown might have been a relief – but, for me, it was also a call to action. As an ex mental health nurse, two things were uppermost in my mind: realisation that the pandemic would inevitably precipitate a spike in stress related disorders, as we all faced the reality of multiple threats to our wellbeing - and a compelling desire to return to my nursing roots and do my bit!

Responding to the call for retired health professionals to return to the NHS gave me an immediate sense of purpose. It also generated a sense of intrigue – where might I end up working, who with, and what might I do? Whilst everyone else was locking down, my world was opening up, and adventure was beckoning: slightly scary, eerie even in these strange times, but nonetheless enticing. And there was comfort too. In those early days of financial uncertainty, the prospect of returning to nursing offered another way of earning money whilst my usual work was on hold. Without purposeful activity, I knew the days ahead would loom ever more threatening, and my own capacity to maintain an optimistic mind-set would be severely tested. Taking action meant taking control! 

Not every action leads to success So began the most frustrating few weeks I have experienced in many a year as I found myself bounced around from person to person, on the ‘fast track’ back to the NHS – each time being asked for the same information in a slightly different way; round, and round, in ever decreasing circles. I lost count of how many people I spoke to, how many times I uploaded proof of identity before, at the very point of giving up, my perseverance was finally rewarded with a shiny new DBS certificate, and the stage was set for the big reveal: where would I be deployed?

Notwithstanding this bureaucratic maze, I did eventually receive notification of a job offer. But, this was no ordinary job offer – this was a ‘pandemic’ job offer, in other words - you are a retired nurse, we want you back, but don’t know what to do with you yet so, let’s get you on the payroll, and someone will be in touch in due course to tell you what you will be doing! As it turned out, I was one amongst many whose name had been added to a list of persons available to be dispatched, at short notice, to the Nightingale Hospitals. But, of course, I was never needed. 

In saying Yes, you must also be prepared to say No As the weeks rolled into months, it became clear that nothing would come of my brief sortie back into the NHS. By this time, however, my motivation to return to nursing had all but evaporated; the promise of adventure replaced with a sense of dejection. I had skills to offer but, seemingly no way forward. I didn’t feel needed, just harassed by the sheer volume of correspondence I had accumulated. I was also becoming very bored – hanging around, waiting for a call up that never came, limited my capacity to pursue alternative activities. Saying ‘Yes’ to NHS England had inevitably meant saying ‘No’ to other possibilities. 

Count your blessings  I did, at least, have a sense of rhythm to my days. I revelled in the opportunity to spend more time with my horses, grateful for the luxury of being able to keep them at home, where I was able to maintain our usual routines: mucking out has never seemed such a blessing! My priorities were definitely shifting, with mundane chores now embraced as desirable activities. I have always been an advocate of decluttering but, in those first weeks of ‘stay at home’, shredding old documents became even more cathartic, creating thinking space for whatever ‘new normal’ might eventually emerge. And, though my diary was lighter than pre-lockdown, I still had some paid work – and, for that, I was especially grateful!

Make each day count  The challenge now was how to manage the frustrated inner nurse, and redirect my urge to act, before lack of purpose drained me of all volition. Like many coaches I spoke to during lockdown, I wanted to be helpful, but I really didn’t want to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. I wanted to contribute, but wasn’t sure of the best route to do so. I certainly didn’t want to add to all the white noise on social media – so many voices clamouring to be noticed, needles of precious advice lost in a vast haystack of clichés. Yet, if I was to emerge from lockdown in the best shape to support new, and returning, coachees, it was important to make each day count! 

Dare to ask The answer came unexpectedly. As an accredited DISC practitioner with TTI Success Insights, I received an email from the company inviting suggestions as to how they might be helpful to the business community. I know from personal experience, and from client feedback, that DISC is an incredibly useful tool for leaders and their teams. I also knew that many of my contacts suddenly had a lot more time for personal development but, perhaps not the confidence to spend money at this time. I saw an opportunity and got in touch with TTISI to discuss the possibilities. True to their word, they were happy to oblige, providing me with complimentary access to the DISC assessment for members of my network. I had dared to ask, and was rewarded with so much more than I had expected. 

The power of virtuous circles. There’s a saying – it only takes one candle to light another. Prompted by TTI Success Insight’s generosity, I decided to offer my own time facilitating feedback on each completed assessment, in exchange for a donation to a local charity. Over the next few weeks, seventeen people completed the assessment, setting in motion an ever increasing virtuous circle

  • Facilitating feedback kept me busy and served my need for purpose driven activity.
  • Completing the assessment enabled people to take advantage of their own quieter workload to focus on personal development
  • Donations to charity helped at a time when their own fund raising activities were significantly reduced.  
  • Inspired by the experience, several people purchased additional assessments for other members of their teams, bringing business back to TTI Success Insights, and generating new income for me.

Look for the learning As restrictions started to ease, and clients started to return, the time seemed right to bring the offer to an end. I learned so much during this period: about me, about TTI Success Insights and, in particular, the expansive power of virtuous circles. I have also completed two further accreditations with TTI Success Insights; Motivators and Emotional Intelligence. I am looking forward to immersing myself further in these new skills; building my knowledge, and sharing the wisdom with those who have an interest in exploring why it is that we do what we do!  

There is always a choice The roller coaster may still be rolling and there will, undoubtedly, be more white-knuckle moments ahead for us all. But, there is also the knowledge that these too will pass – normality will reassert itself, as it always does. And, in the meantime, we have a choice – hide behind closed eyes, or turn our faces to the wind. Which will you choose?

For further information about DISC assessments, click here. To book a no obligation consultation call me on 0333 444 9845, or drop me an email via my contact page and let’s talk.
20% discount on all appointments scheduled before 30 September 2020. 

Images (pre-lockdown) by Carol Bailey Photography

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