If you could go back one year into the past, what advice would you give yourself?
We hear a lot of talk about the resilience and adaptability of humans. As the eternal optimist, I believed in this on a cognitive level, but secretly I had my doubts. 2020 has proven to me that humans are exceedingly resilient and abundantly adaptable. If I could go back one year, I would give myself 3 pieces of advice: 1) People can, and will overcome all obstacles – trust in this with your head and heart. 2) We can adapt to anything if we can find meaning in it, never stop searching for meaning, and 3), Above all, be patient and be kind with all people – there is always context that you are not aware of.
What surprised you over the last few months?
On a personal note, as the father of three boys, a four year old, and four month old twins, I have been surprised by how little sleep we can actually operate on. As a social scientist, I have been pleasantly surprised to see so many random acts of kindness during the ongoing pandemic. There are still scores of people in desperate need of support, and we should continue reaching out to them. If a ‘new normal’ post Covid world is one where people care more for their neighbor, give more to the needy, and appreciate more what we have, then I think we’ve gained something valuable out of the crisis.
What learnings are you taking with you into the future?
On a very practical note, I’ve learnt some handy virtual working skills, including how to better collaborate virtually, and how to run remote Think Big sessions. Through enhanced virtual working I’ve learnt how to be more aware of language and social queues, I’ve learnt how to socialize with colleagues through virtual platforms, how to host a virtual beer O’clock, and how many words there are in the King James Bible (thanks to virtual pub quiz). The answer is 783,137 if you were wondering.