Bitter lessons from the year of COVID-19 which made us stronger

Introduction

Sometime in late December 2019, I started seeing news reports of a virus that was causing some concern in China. My excuse not to be concerned was that this was only contained in a single city in China.

I thought nothing of it at the time. I thought this too shall pass.

In no time, the news become scarier. My excuse not to be concerned was that most believed this virus would start and die off just like the SARS virus. And besides it was all the way in Asia.

I thought nothing of it at the time. I thought this too shall pass.

In no time, this new virus was spreading into Europe. My excuse not to be concerned was that most believed that the African climate was going to be inhospitable for this virus to survive.

I thought nothing of it at the time. I thought this too shall pass.

Before long, the news broke that this virus had arrived in Ghana.

It was all I could think about at the time. This did not pass.

A year of many changes

COVID-19 made the year 2020 drastically different from what we had all envisioned 2020 would look like. COVID-19 was no more a foreign virus from a foreign land. It was a virus which had an immediate and global effect on me. It affected

  • My pocket
  • My mobility
  • My priorities
  • My views on life

By using COVID as an acronym, here a few lessons I would like to share. Hopefully, these lessons would make us better people not only in 2021 but in the years ahead as well.

Lessons

C is for Connected

We are all connected. This makes me recall Lucky Dube’s song “Different colors, one people”. It still rings true till this day. The virus spared no one. Whether

  • black or white.
  • Caucasian or African
  • short or old
  • man or woman

It knew no boundaries or nations. COVID-19 is very contagious. In fact, it is so contagious that the most effective way of stopping its spread was to quarantine entire cities and nations.

Whether we believe it or not, we are all linked on this planet through one person or another. How else could COVID-19 jump from one human host to millions the world over.

The lesson here is that we will learn not to take for granted our existence on this planet. Additionally, my survival depends on you and you survival depends on me.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

O is for Objectives

Your objectives for the year can change at the snap of a finger. The sudden lock down measures altered the plans of a lot of people, myself included. Yearlong company strategies were planned for 2020 at the end of 2019.

These were captured in minutes, framed, and had been committed to be the company board. These were all scuttled by COVID-19’s immediate impact on society. Our lesson here is that we need to be adaptable.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow

V is for Virtual

Virtual collaboration is the future. In 2019, it would have been difficult to work from home more times than you visit the office. Working from home was something even working nursing mothers would have had a hard time getting approval from their line managers.

However, working from home is now to be the norm. A lot of companies have even adopted a work from home first approach. This has brought cost savings on office rent as well as on transportation to work.

There are also

  • online lessons
  • online business meetings
  • online conferences.

In short, everthing that can go online, is moving online !

Our lesson here is that we will have to adapt our lives to enable us to be as productive or even more productive as we work remotely.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

I is for Innovation

It is often said necessity is the mother of invention. Many inventions came up amidst this pandemic. Using technology as well as the willingness of people to collaborate inspired lots of innovations. One of the most popular innovations was the solar powered hand washing sink with remote sensors created by Mr. Richard Kwarteng Aning.

Examples of other innovations which came up were COVID-19 tracking websites, a government sponsored COVID-19 app amongst others.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

D is for Determination

Ghanaians were determined to not let COVID-19 ruin their lives. We are all determined to make the most of the situation.

  • Weddings happened, albeit in smaller numbers and with streaming online
  • Funerals happened, albeit in smaller numbers and with streaming online
  • Commerce went on
  • All other business adjusted and went on

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

Bonus

As a bonus. I realized that we learnt to be a little bit cleaner. It is not uncommon now to see people wash their hands before entering a church, a home, or an office.

The greater sense of hygiene required to not spread the disease is a welcome habit we have all imbided and hopefully has come to stay.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

Conclusion

Let us not have short memories. As we step forward into 2021.

  • There may come different strains of viruses.
  • There may be abrupt changes to our lifestyles
  • There may be interruptions to our goals.

However when these lessons do not depart from us, then we will be better prepared for what may come.

To COVID-19, it was a bitter lesson, but you have made us stronger for tomorrow.

Thank you.

Anthony Eli Agbenu would love to get in touch
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