In Part 1 we used the acronym of COVID to good effect. Our COVID stands for: Concentrate On Victory In Defeat

We said that using a crisis for victory, means that although you are not exempt from it  and may even be infected, you use every ounce of your energy for two things:

  • To protect yourself, those closest to you, and those beyond.
  • To learn from the crisis and then begin to plan for life after the crisis.

Point is, you don’t plan for the crisis but through it. It is a juncture, a point in time, an event that can precipitate change if you isolate but don’t hibernate, if you lift your head and don’t succumb to defeat.

Your immediate three actions are:

Hygiene. Isolation. Test [if you get a dry cough and sense a fever].

One thing that you now have on your hands in isolation is time. Planning in the situation and through it, becomes eminently possible. But before I consider that, what can we take from this that is human and precious:

1. Choice: Up to the time of isolation we had free choice. I’m surprised that some wise guy has not taken the government to ConCourt because their “right to choose” has been violated. A National Disaster status allows our choice to be curtailed. What a privilege Choice is and, like so many things, when it’s removed legally, we realise how much we miss it. It is a right, but it is also a precious right.

I have a cricket field close to the house where we walk the dogs every afternoon because the spaniel paws us to go from 2pm onwards. Now I have to explain to them that their walk is banished – frankly, I’d rather do that than have your problem isolating schoolkids ☺

2. Family: Talking about children, how important is your family? Very important. And now, for the first time even including your last holiday, you are locked in. Dads, you will have to be inventive in your play. TV games will only get you so far but then you’ll need to do something else. Let me suggest: Pay Attention, Talk About Important Things and Listen.

I am no role model, but I understand that you can spend years grafting your backside off and seldom have or take the time to look someone you love in the eyes and Listen while they Talk. It needn’t be styled as a therapy session, it could be helping with a braai, or playing on the grass. Time exists now to love your family and restore relationships that may have frayed.

3. Panic vs Patience: I was speaking to a friend yesterday about banking and investment portfolios. Bad enough to be utilising retirement portfolios to supplement your income, but how does it feel to have your business at risk? I was CEO in 2008 when we shut down our mortgage origination business, person by person; for the associates across the country, the property market slowly shut them down. Paramount at the time for me was the notion that the business is the Hero. If you keep that alive, you keep hope and employment alive. Whilst turnover decreased from R888m in July 2007 to R92m in January 2009, we hung in with a tiny team.

It took a mammoth effort to keep the company alive, but we did it and today it, and two of the largest players have continued – even though, never to the same levels. In that calamity, Panic was never an option even though it was your natural response; it truly was a frightening time. Og Mandino, a well-respected American author, in his best-seller, The Greatest Salesman in the World, had a chapter titled: This too will Pass. I have never forgotten those words and their meaning. You see, when you begin to realise this too will pass, you find Patience. Patience to sit it out, patience with your kids, patience, almost positive acceptance, at the state of your investment portfolio, patience to cope with what you should be doing and who you should be seeing but, alas, cannot.

Let me put it this way: May Panic elude you and Patience find you.

4. Levelling: Rich, poor, black, white succumb to this virus. It is a great leveller. It was found amongst the Chinese in Wuhan, it came to South Africa as a result of a returning traveller and now we have four cases in the Overberg. Egos should be put aside; “they” and “them” are “you” and “I” as we face this unprecedented lockdown. We’re all equal. But if you can, spare a thought for those with children in a nearby shack who have to “slum it” literally, while we enjoy the relative luxury of our homes. We should be on-our-knees grateful for our circumstances and our health. Realise as you contemplate the “trial” of isolation how brief Life really is. And, how fragile. A 125nanometer [that’s one billionth of a meter] ugly little virus that looks like a sea mine, has flattened the globe. I don’t have a word beyond “fragile” to describe our human state right now. We have all been levelled.

5. Connectivity: We are also all connected. We have a Soup Kitchen every Monday at church where we serve the homeless. That event has grown from a low of about 18 people to 41 the previous week and over 50 last time. Those people are connecting because they’re hungry and soon even the restaurants’ bins will be empty. We certainly are all connected, even from the highest to the lowest of our society.

Even in isolation, with the help of modern-day media, we can remain in touch, remain connected. Make a list of those you love and those you call friends and then phone them periodically. Try not to share your problems as they probably have enough of their own already. What they need is care and encouragement. They need to hear that this too will pass and may even appreciate a lekker joke. Tell it and whatever “heavies” you share as friends, always try to finish off with a word of hope, a story of “Victory in Defeat”, remembering it’s often only the last few paragraphs of a conversation that you actually remember. Always invite them to call you if they need to chat.

I guess I could go on and on, but just a last point. Selfishness and materialism could be at the heart of your and my need to change. We may live “isolated” lives in principle – me, mine and ours – permeates so much of who we are and what we do. I remember a FB comment after two weeks of protesting in Hermanus that said something like this: “Com’on now, stop it. My domestic needs to get back to work.” I remember how I felt, an initial smile and then an anger at such insensitivity.

The lady domestic was cordoned into her own township and not allowed to leave the perimeter without paying an exit fee and if she did not return on time with what she said she would buy, they threatened to burn her house down [they only needed to do a few to get their awful message across]. What a disgraceful way to view the plight of those people, telling them to stop so as to “ease my inconvenience” at having to do housework! Shame on us! We need to open the curtains on our selfishness and let the light change our attitude. Lay down our materialism; everything is getting scratched, chipped and older anyway.

I’ve taken a moral high ground in this blog. I have done it for effect. I am guilty as charged and probably as guilty as anyone when it comes to poor attitudes at times. However, coronavirus begs a response from us. It is business unusual. We now have time to change where change is needed.

Character is refined in a crucible.

Choose Family. Be Patient. Allow yourself to be levelled. Stay connected. You could be amazed at the change that will occur in you, around you and because of you.

In Part 3, I’ll talk to some commercial implications of COVID, in my humble opinion.

Yours in Property

Jack Trevena
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