Day 6

Day 6

Today seemed lighter.

The sun shone all day, and work was busy, very busy from first thing until about 7pm. But there were walks for exercise and more freedom. We can now buy “essential” appliances, which means The Warehouse partially got their way. In other big announcements the Supermarkets will be permitted to open on Easter Sunday in a first, and we were warned not to flush “Wet Wipes” down the toilet!  Apparently they’re causing problems to the wastewater system, presumably that they weren’t causing prior to the Lockdown. Come to think of it I’ve never seen Wet Wipes at work, so that seems logical.

Despite the flashing red banners on every news site, breathlessly giving us advance notice of today’s COVID-19 developments, there wasn’t really much. 58 actual or probable new infections, but we were warned that the number would be greater when the increased testing comes through.  And  I guess all statistics, in every country are about who’s been tested.

The two statistics that probably aren’t so dependent on testing are those poor folk in serious condition, and deaths. They’re both still at, respectively, 2 and 1 in New Zealand.

Another figure came out today: 14,000 being the number of deaths we could expect without measures. At the time of the Lockdown it was 80,000, so we’re moving in a positive direction on predictions. I assume the Lockdown is a stunning success so far. Maybe it is!

Talk of the economic crisis increased today. My prediction is that before long the crisis will be talked of more or less only as an economic and social one. Long after the virus is beaten, we’ll be debating, suffering and trying to grapple with the new reality.

I received a sobering email from Air New Zealand’s CEO which reads “it is clear that the Air New Zealand which emerges from Covid-19 will be a much smaller and largely domestic airline with limited international services to keep supply lines open for the foreseeable future.” Welcome back NAC. Only a few weeks ago, it was discussing the launch in October of direct flights to New York. I found it a bit sad actually. I’m missing my regular flights and as a long term customer and shareholder, I’ll remain loyal and hopeful. Go Air New Zealand!

So it’s a sobering long term picture, which we’ll get through in time, but it will probably be a lot longer than we were all told to expect when the Lockdown was enforced.

So, for us individually, good humour, love and show some compassion to your neighbour, say hello on your walk to others – it’s a medical problem, we’re not North Korea – and continue to practice good mindfulness and breathing. Slow breaths in and longer – double the length – breaths out.

I’m hopeful that when I look back at this blog about wet wipes, published on April Fools’ Day, that we’ll go “hey they got us bad that day!

Stephen

Day 5

Day 5

If it hadn’t been Lockup season I would have titled this blog “Dob-in trust”.

There is a piece of legislation called the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, which legislates that government entities are to have policies and procedures to enable “whistleblowers”. Many, probably most, large private businesses and organisations have whistleblower programmes in place too. These systems ensure that organisations remain transparent, that probity issues known only to the least powerful, are brought forward and properly investigated ensuring the principles of natural justice are applied (opportunity to be heard, impartial decision-maker).

Carefully managed, a whistleblower system can be a culture enabler. Treated carelessly, where unfounded allegations are used to punish, they destroy culture and trust.

Without doubt, most of my leadership development work is, at its heart, about trust.  Individuals, relationships, organisations and societies build trust by behaviours. By giving a bit here, a bit there, trust is built through past actions, just as I said at the end of Day 1. I blogged about Steven Covey’s trust bank back in 2009, when this blog was only a few months old. We lose trust at our peril.

If we’re going to have society-wide systems to “dob in” our neighbours for apparent misconduct, we should set the rules up clearly and with compassion.  A solo cycle across town is a problem? Come on! Relax, for many people the prospect of not exercising is frightening and dangerous. If your neighbour appears to be in breach of what you interpret the rules as, perhaps a quiet word (over the fence of course) or a phone call.

In this environment, when the rules are being made up as we go along and enforced subjectively, let’s focus on all the things that matter.  We’ve already ground the economy and our freedoms to a halt to rid us of the ‘rona.  Don’t let this destroy our community trust. I know from decades of investigating wrong-doing that there’s always another side to the story, another perspective, often a misunderstanding.

Calm down!

Chill out!

Speaking of which, we now have 12 people in hospital with COVID-19. Tents are coming! I know I shouldn’t make light of that, but you know, if we can’t put some perspective on it we’ll all go stir-crazy. It’s only been 5 days!

Sadly though, an elderly woman with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and well known to her local DHB, died after contracting COVID-19. She probably won’t be the last. On the evidence available, older people are much more susceptible to the serious impacts of the virus, partly at least, from what I’ve read, because they are much more likely to have other health issues. That doesn’t mean that if you’re younger it’s necessarily a walk in the park.  My parents who are in their late 80s, are safely staying put at home. Family are supporting with shopping, even though they’re spritely and in good health. Just to be sure.

I’d love to visit on Mum’s birthday in late April.

Stephen

 

 

Day 4

Day 4

It was a fab day in Auckland, not so in other parts by the look of it. So, surprise, walking. Beautiful relaxing walking.

Today felt almost normal, and in many ways it was. Nice breakfast, good walk, lunch, some personal admin, relaxing, dinner, Country Calendar and – this has been a long time coming – Season 3 of Ozark.

I’m a big fan of Country Calendar. It shows a life that reminds me of Uncle George’s farm, my own place in the country and thousands of kilometres of road trips. For me it’s the Kiwi life at its idyllic with lovely countryside scenes, filmed beautifully. The perfect anti-anxiety fix.

Ozark, not so much! It’s beautifully filmed too, but tense, gripping. It’ll keep me going for a few days of evening Netflix, as long as the internet doesn’t break which we’re told it won’t.

This coming week is a big test. How will we go for a whole working week at home I wonder? Routine will be important as will focus and mindfulness. Giving ourselves a break, both actual and and emotional. Some days we just won’t feel so flash, I’m sure. Remembering that it will all pass.

So I’ve tried to rate myself for this weekend.

A Herald journalist tried to give everyone a scolding for treating the Home-D like it was a holiday at home, using a narrative that we were in an apocalyptic, once in a lifetime state.  That we shouldn’t just think we have to “stay at home”, that it’s vital we do our bit. And don’t even think about trying to make anything good out of it! We get it I think. We also get it that there’s strong and serious messages. I’m not sure why the media need to yell it at us like it needs their amplification. How about some other news, some insight and critical thinking? An uplift at a critical time is nice.

We're not completely broken!

My weekend gripe, but beyond that I feel I’ve come out stronger, more resilient and good to go. It wasn’t so bad.

Only thing is thinking about the weeks ahead, creating stress by worrying about the future. Can I survive?! Kind of where I started on the night before the Lockdown. Somehow I need to put that little voice to bed!

Which is precisely where I’m headed, ready for the working week. Let’s call it week 2, and congratulate ourselves on a first – first weekend nailed.

Stephen

 

Day 3

Day 3

The weekend! I heard the weather forecast and wondered whether we could do without it. Does it even matter now?

A walk (yep the weather matters!) – got the sweats up today –  chats to family and friends, although not face-to-face. The roads were quiet, but not completely clear, although I got this shot of one of the busiest roads in New Zealand on my walk. The prison in the background. Every hardship in perspective.

southern motorway2.jpg

I started a new audiobook – Getting Things Done – by David Allen on my son Thomas‘ recommendation. As the world changes we all need to find new ways of working and finding fulfilment.

I broke my Facebook Amnesty – a tool from my last book – Deep Work by Cal Newport which has unexpectedly prepared me for my Home-D. Unsurprisingly, Facebook hasn’t changed, but the mood seemed to be of compliance with the new emergency lockdown and almost unfettered power to the police. Questions about approach appeared to burst bubbles (not the home bubble I hope!) of reverence to those in power. It worries me that there is so little critical thinking on where we’re going. I’m not saying we’re not doing the right thing, but in Leadership, embracing all alternative viewpoints provides a richness in decision making. Think Appreciative Inquiry, Strategic Thinking, Ladder of Inference and BXT. When we embrace views contrary to ours we do our best.

I obsessed slightly about the rates of COVID-19 infection and impacts. Cases went up in New Zealand as expected, by about the same as the day before, although the numbers in ICU doubled – from 1 to 2. Global cases passed 600,000 with deaths at 27,500 and those in serious or critical condition at 23,500. Ninety-five percent of cases still active are in mild condition.  Italy and Spain have extraordinary large numbers of deaths per million of population (151 and 110), then there’s a group in the 20s and 30s (France, Iran, Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland), a few countries with rates of 5 – 10 per million and the bulk well below.

Practiced some Windfulness today on my walk – focussing on the surroundings and stillness, although there were plenty of people out exercising. I used the time to bring my thoughts in closer, to focus on what I can control and lead. It helped.

Anxietyometer: Started higher today, but down after the walk and focussed mindfulness.

Season 3 of Ozark is out! 

Stephen

 

 

Day 2

Day 2

The trains are still running. Including the midnight freight train, which despite hearing it, I slept much better. But I was really tired at the end of the day.  Maybe it’s the anxiety, the constant screen, camped inside, or a combination of it all, but it made me very tired.

Some rules were clarified – you can’t drive 20km to the supermarket – well not in the city anyway, you can walk from home and back again, there seems to be a consensus that you can cycle on your own, and that you can drive to a local park and walk there.

I drove to a local park and had a great walk this evening. I imagined who the French Resistance circa 1942 might be and who the occupying sympathisers would likely be. Those that passed cautiously without exaggerated movements and smiled knowingly, verus those who crossed the road with stern looks.

We are told it’s a dire threat so there’s only one rule – Stay Home! – and  all the other variations of that rule are made up as it goes along. Anything that is a breach is obstruction!

Some might question why my apparent obsession with outdoor activities, when there’s an imminent peril to counter. Might be the 80sqm apartment, the need for freedom and the general disruption. It’s both shallow and deep. Shallow as the media only have one story which you can’t consume all the time so I need to focus on something – anything! – and deeper, it’s about our way of life.

It’s also that the disruption for most people is not about COVID-19 on a day-to-day basis – that occupies the Media and social media platforms – it’s about economic and social survival. The economy sacrificed, social order turned upside down, families split and so on.

iStock-1206471877.jpg

So, I survived the first week of Home-D, yeah it’s only two days but let’s give ourselves some slack and make it feel like an achievement. The work team have been awesome and everyone: clients, colleagues and support crew are adjusting very well. We’ve seen the insides of colleagues homes, their family and pets. That’s going to be a thing from now on. Nothing that I would need to unsee yet.

Humour remains important. A colleague asked me what I had in store for the weekend.

Stephen

Day 1

Day 1

It started quieter than usual. But the trains are still running – no one to be seen in them – but it was comforting. A full day’s work, very full, lots of Google Hangouts, dozens of phone calls (61 to be precise), client discussions, emails, timesheets, a normal, manic day.

I could hear the neighbour’s washing machine – I’ve hardly ever heard anything – but of course we’re all home, all the time! More or less.

The public messaging a week ago was about don’t worry, you’ll still be going shopping to the supermarket, the doctor and the pharmacy, and you can have walks for exercise. Today not so much. It was Stay Home! The Police will be watching and asking questions. The media have fallen into line, amplifying the warnings with dire predictions of death rates, if we all don’t do what we’re told. A brief stroll in the neighbourhood is going to be acceptable, except in the Tron where an older couple were told by the police to “go home, you can only walk under Alert 3”. Wrong. But any walk that looks like you might be enjoying yourself is out. Go Home! 

So after work a walk for exercise. I swear I didn’t enjoy myself, it was a grim event, done purely for medicinal purposes, followed by a supermarket shop. I followed the rules. Acted like I had COVID-19, although I’ll need to get walking a bit harder and faster tomorrow to get the sweats up.

The supermarket was quiet, well stocked and welcoming. A walk home, dinner and Netflix. It was okay!

iStock-1150076487.jpgWhen power is given in a democracy it mustn’t be abused, or even used unless absolutely necessary. To do otherwise risks the very democracy that we live under.

The authorities have a massive test in front of them. Enforcing the “stay home” in a reasonable way that calibrates with Kiwi democracy. If not, a loss of trust for the future.

We earn tomorrow’s trust by today’s actions.

Anxietyometer? Definitely down. It’s the PM-sanctioned Teddy Bear walks that did it. Turns out it’s fine to go for a walk! Of course it is!

Stephen

 

D-Day

D-Day

As I write it’s 59 minutes until we have the full force of the Lockdown. The Newmarket Viaduct is strangely noisier than usual – steady slow streams of traffic don’t filter through the double-glazing, but trucks and other vehicles at pace do – just. Westfield is well-lit as usual and only the two supermarkets at the centre will be open for business tomorrow.

I’m at the point of – just make it be here! – the anticipation feels the worst part – and once it’s here we’ll adjust and carry on. Life will never be the same – but this thing will pass – before we know it. That is not a scientific prediction, but a reasonable assumption based on past events.

I’m feeling a bit anxious. I have always felt that freedom is my most important value – I’ve been attracted to it as a restorative and sustaining value for many years – and having a state sanctioned emergency rule of law in place is an anathema to that.

Rationally I get this Lockdown as I expect most of us do, so what to do about the anxiety? I can’t rely on my rational self to resolve it completely. I know the police are generally reasonable (I was in the police once) so we needn’t be afraid. I hear that the science supports the action – I trust our senior health professionals – we’re very fortunate to have independent government agencies, charged with providing expert and impartial advice. I don’t think most of our politicians want to rule over a police state – although I’d like to see more challenge to keep them accountable – so rationally I can reduce my anxiety somewhat.

iStock-985011924.jpgExperts tell us that the anticipation of a stressful experience or event, often creates more anxiety than the thing itself.  So I’m hoping that by the time the morning comes all will be well!

My planning is for Work, Walking, Windfulness and Whatever else. My four Ws for now:

  • Work – I’m fortunate
  • Walking – I completed my 101st walk in 2020 today so this Lockdown is going to see me steaming ahead on my goal of 366 for the year (who remembered it was a leap year?). And yes, they’ll be solo.
  • Windfulness – that’s just Mindfulness spelt with a W for no reason other than I could. More on that another day. But the point is that actually embracing this moment in all its scariness, unusualness and new opportunities might be the best gift to ourselves.
  • Whatever else – That can be any of the things you’ve been meaning to do at home. Watch all 25 Bond films (I might actually do that one) or Woody Allen’s film Whatever Works, read all Tintin Books (again!), go on-line and create your Family Tree, and blog every day (I’ll try).

Looking forward to it being here. At least then I can stop worrying about it coming!

Stephen