Coffee with Ali: The Gift of Lockdown

Here we go again. The UK as with many other countries in Europe are about to enter lockdown again in an effort to curb the rising infections and reduce strain on the health services. It was met with a huge groan of frustration from all especially since we are heading towards the festive season, businesses were almost keeping afloat and this was just another blow to our already collectively hammered in lives. Perhaps the greatest fear is the unknown. We simply do not know how long this will last. Tensions are rising and coronavirus fatigue is part of our daily lives. However I woke up this morning with a different view. I’m looking at this lockdown as a gift.

This year has been tough for everyone. I refuse to accept life now as the new normal and supported myself through a framework of structure, connections and appreciation. It cannot be understated how that frame helped not only myself but others in my life directly and indirectly. Yet something was missing. Something was just not there to actually move forward positively. Constantly feeling stagnant, useless, depressed, confused, helpless, basically the feeling of losing control. Hearing friends, family and loved ones also struggling mentally as well as in their livelihoods repressed the feeling more so. What’s the point of anything was a question bouncing around my head. Why?

It boiled down to one fact I was reminded of; acceptance or more accurately, lack thereof on my part. I simply did not accept that this is beyond my control. I may have mouthed the words, “It is what it is” seemingly verbally accepting it, but the same sentiment did not reach deep down within my core, my mind and my spirit. Ultimately this was the root cause of my faith and belief being slowly ebbed away within not only myself, but the world and even so far to the spiritual realm. Waking up this morning, truly acknowledging acceptance deep within my spirit was like a reboot to my psyche. We all know the saying, “focus on the things you can control”, but you cant do that if you cannot accept that the thing that is out of your control. Submitting to the fact there is nothing you physically can do to change things. Nothing. It is absolute. NOTHING. Another mechanism I employed to truly accept within my spirit, was to embrace my pessimism. Not being able to travel this year disappointed me, seeing the various injustices in the world saddened me, I could go on and on, but overall expectations caused dissatisfaction. So I decided to expect less and less and instead adjusted my focus on creating. Creating is motivating.

Now with my spirit in the right frame after the catharsis of acceptance, I could work or actually focus back on my purpose. My personal why, my reason for being. This time last year I had completed the first draft of my book. Reflecting back on why I did that in the first place, reminded me of one of my core ideals that I simply did not act upon these months. Namely, to inspirit others. Be it my son, family, friends, colleagues, fellow introverts, the non privileged, that person struggling to be seen at work, that person that just needed a smile. With an ethos of creating, my reason was pulled to the forefront. This example is just personal to me, you may have a different why, a different purpose, the important thing is to get it back and/ or create it.

Naturally then the next step is to forge the path ahead to keep moving forward. Identifying the things you are going to do to act on your why and to simply do it. Drop by drop, step by step, continuing the momentum will keep us physically and mentally sustained for the long term. Some innovation will be needed, some getting back to basics is almost certain, but we have to act to move forward.

This mantra of Spirit, Purpose and Forge, cannot be maintained on its own. The framework of Structure, Connections and Appreciation is the enabler. For example, structuring my days made me ensure I didn’t just seclude to my cocoon all day and night. The connections that I kept consistent during these past 8 months were critical in reminding me that I had value within me to offer. I forgot that. The truly awesome people around me personally and professionally wiped away that mist, provided me the ability to also cope with the reality of acceptance. Appreciation for what I have in life provided nutrition to my sanity. Combining all of this together is extremely powerful and is positively something we can control.

This is it, this is the result of the gift we have now. By accepting the situation deep in our spirit, knowing that we cannot go back, we can only move forward, will forge the positivity of our purpose. Peace & Love.

SPIRIT. PURPOSE. FORGE.

This article is dedicated to Qasim ‘Cas’ Majid who reminded me the importance of acceptance. Thanks brother.

Having over 15 years’ experience in freight forwarding and supply chain management, Ali has led numerous multi-disciplined projects and operations globally. A change management specialist having worked within multiple industry verticals. He is also a coffee-obsessed, solo-travelling introvert.

Ali is also a published author with his latest book; Building Your Bridge: An Introvert’s Art of SuccessA personal journey to help guide professional introverts to realising that as an introvert, the skills and traits for success are already within their grasp. Available now here.