Resilience – The Big Learning from Lockdown.

Resilience – The Big Learning from Lockdown.

Resilience – The Big Learning from Lockdown.

An unasked-for disruption. But, taken by the horns, not unappreciated.

Jonathan Yudelowitz 

Suddenly, nothing is as it was. From when you drove home in the traffic on the evening of Thursday 26th March to when you woke up at home on the morning of Friday 27th March, realising that you would not pick up your car keys today, the world was different.

Suddenly, you were not in your office, business as usual, but in the kitchen. Suddenly, your clients were not in their offices and factories, but where were they? At home? In the lounge? Working or, like you, wondering WTF?

How different was everything going to be? And for how long? How were you going to do business? How were you going to matter to your clients? The white walls of your spare room loomed large. But what loomed even larger was a grey, impenetrable cloud of Not Knowing. Not Knowing anything, really.

Resilience at such a devastating moment was not some form of long-term suffering to be endured for weeks on end. It was not something that required you to hunker down, almost physically, tucking your head in, squashing your emotions, and waiting until the worst was over. It was almost the opposite of that.

Resilience in a disruption as cataclysmic as the start of Lockdown was about finding a way to carry on. When everything about your world had evaporated overnight, when it was no longer there, where it was, how would you carry on doing business, carry on doing what you were good at?

Resilience was about occupying a place in the world, particularly in your clients’ world, so that you remained valuable to them. It was about ensuring your self-interest, come what may.

When I realised that was the situation at hand, hard truths soon began to appear out of the grey fog of Not Knowing.

1. Fear was appropriate – to a point

Anyone who thought, “This will soon be over, we will soon go back to how we were,” was in denial.  Like those who went into a panic, they were wasting valuable time. They were not facing up to reality – a valuable thing to face up to when it is terrifying. Use the fear, but don’t overdo it or let it last too long. Allow the fear to burn away the fog of denial – to clarify as if in wartime – what really matters. What do you really need to be happy, to be content and make a living?  For me this was to stay relevant and connected to my clients. Not only would they probably be feeling the same as I was, but I would feel valued and valuable: this is what my fear let me see was at stake.

2. Fortune favoured the intentional

“I can make something of this.” That was a good decision to have reached three days later, week commencing Monday 30thMarch. Intentionality is a powerful human quality. It is a torch – a light sabre, even – with which people carved up the grey fog of Not Knowing. Fortune favoured the intentional. They soon found the chinks of opportunity.

3. Doing things you had not done before

Profound adaptation. If all that remained of your business was a screen and a Wi-Fi connection, how were you going to behave in front of that screen? With resentment? Or as a professional TV personality, dressed to impress, with good lighting, and with performance reviews afterwards?

4. Discovering the unexpected

This did not mean realising you could now walk around in your tracksuit pants all day. Or that you didn’t have to sit in the traffic.

The unexpected included the discovery that you, of all people, actually enjoyed performing in front of the camera. And that you could energise and engage previously sticky clients with your new presence.

The unexpected was that, while your spouse’s corporate catering business had died, dozens of families in the suburb were willing to pay good money to have professional suppers prepared and delivered. Who would have thought?

5. What mattered?

Did flying Business Class to a meeting matter? Yes, it did. It made you feel part of something powerful and got you to see the World.  Did standing in the reception of prestigious company’s headquarters matter? Yes, it felt good to be eagerly awaited, to be ushered in.

But now? Sitting on an ordinary chair in the spare room with a mug of coffee? Gone were the props and the puffery. You were stripped down (not literally, hopefully) to a conversation on Zoom or Teams.

Were you going to hack it? And hack what, exactly?

What mattered? The early weeks of Lockdown were an important time to re-evaluate the past few years – everything you had taken for granted. Everything you assumed was there for a reason.

And going forward? What had your business diligently done that now seemed silly and superfluous? What would you change? What, without the support of your colleagues, was your value? What was your IP? How would you measure success in the future?

6. Comparison is no way to live

Comparison has always been a benchmark in business. How are you doing compared to last month? And to this time last year? How are you doing compared to your competitors? And to your own expectations? Comparison is a harsh master.

But when you are starting afresh, Day One of Lockdown, there is no comparison.  What would it take to be viable, as a household having to pay bills and as a business? There was no benchmark. That was scary, but it was also liberating. Look at the facts. Make decisions. Instead of looking back, there was every opportunity to be on your toes, looking forward.

And that is how it should be every day, actually. Being creative, and being individual, is an immensely rewarding way to spend your day.

That is how business, when it is most alive, should be.


Never waste a good crisis, as they say. Lockdown has been devastating. It is not something you would wish on anyone. But it has also been an important time. For me, it has been the chance to find out what actually matters. To truly appreciate my sphere of influence. To have been forced to reimagine and reinvent has been so rewarding.

And above all, when the chips are down, when the world has disappeared and all seems lost, what matters? People. I cannot overstate the value of people who think. People who have the fight in them. People who are resilient. Clients and colleagues alike.