PWN Global President’s Blog: The Pandemic, A Catalyst for Change

February 10, 2022by Carina furlong0

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  Harriet Tubman

This above quote resonated with us because we are dreamers, we aspire for gender-balanced leadership in business and society, we are working to ensure that dream is realised.

A world where equality and inclusion exist in all areas of our lives – this aspiration is what fuels us in our voluntary work.

The 2020 pandemic is an accelerant increasing the velocity of change. It will be marked in history books as a defining moment when the world came to a stop, and we were confronted with the fragility of life and limitations that made everyday life more challenging. The level of change we have experienced over the past year has been phenomenal. Change at this rate can be very uncomfortable; it takes us to a place where we have to get comfortable with the ‘unknown’.

People have lost their lives, alone and leaving behind grieving family members. Our worldwide healthcare system and its front line workers have been under extreme pressure, and are still fighting to save and preserve life. Furthermore, the impact of the pandemic is being felt, in some way, in almost every household and family. Jobs are being lost, and the pressure for parents to combine work and home-schooling is enormous. We have had to reinvent parts of our lives, find new ways to cope with stress, and new ways to connect with friends and loved ones.What is clear is that this year has had a significant impact on our dream and that the rate of change to advance the balanced leadership agenda needs to be increased.

It has been challenging. It still is challenging.

Our PWN Global community has demonstrated tremendous strength to adapt to the change that is needed. We have needed to be agile and flexible in anticipating the insecurity that these circumstances brought to us. We have had to make tough decisions around our resources to ensure the sustainability of our organisation. Whilst, at the same time, we saw the resilience of our City Networks in how they adapted to expand and provide a comforting and welcoming space for everyone seeking inspiration and camaraderie. We are truly impressed by, and grateful for, the work that has been done by our volunteers under the leadership of our City Network Presidents.

Combining our work as Presidents for PWN with our full-time jobs, children and care for our family needs has been and still is a challenge. We also realise that many others are dealing with much more pressure, grief and stress. This year has amplified the impact of the already high amount of stress and added more pressure on our mental health. That is why, as we approach the end of the year, we have paused to reflect on and evaluate how well we are adapting to the level of change we have experienced. We encourage everyone to use this time for reflection and to check in with yourselves.

We had some very intense conversations about our role as leaders. These past months have taught us the importance of taking care of both our mental and physical health. Like so many, we are glued to our screens for many hours a day, with the pace of virtual interaction increasing while the moments to unwind seem to diminish.

Taking care of your mental health has never been more critical, which emphasises the importance of taking a close look at your personal needs and obligations, and deciding how you want to show up next year. Given the circumstances, you might want to re-evaluate your core values, your needs for growth, and how you choose to add value in the different roles you fulfil.

We know that 2021 will bring similar and maybe even additional challenges. Now is the time to prioritise your mental and physical health, find ways to relax and recharge. It could mean to revisit your boundaries and choose activities that bring joy, not only to yourself but to the people around you. It could mean taking stock of what your relationship to change is, acknowledging how challenging it has been and how well you have done. Self-compassion needs to come into focus when so much else goes out the door. In the words of Socrates,

‘the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new’.

The only thing spreading faster than the virus this year is our collective sense of empathy. Life is short and fragile – take good care of yourself, your loved ones, and your wider community.

We look forward to crafting a sustainable approach to our roles in 2021, and we encourage you to do the same. We will endeavour to keep our dream at the core of our focus, and keep our dynamic PWN Global community close for support.

 Carina Furlong & Sheila Gemin, Co- President’s PWN Global

Carina furlong

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