"Faith, family, friendship, heart and future"
More than a year of this pandemic has passed and so much has changed in the way we live. We have shifted to a new normal of doing things—in our homes, schools and workplaces. This has not been easy, and it did come with a lot of challenges.
The comfort of the familiar is something that many of us have been denied in the past 13 months. We had to steer through uncertain times and make unsure decisions. In fact, many have closed down their businesses or lost their jobs, and making both ends meet has become hard, if not harder than it already was. We were all snatched from our usual routines and confined to our homes, and by the time we were allowed to slowly go out into the community, we realized so much has changed.
But this crisis did come with its own lessons, which I would like to share with all of you. Faith matters. Family comes first. Friendship enriches. Find your heart. Future means now.
First, faith matters. It is quite an irony that at a time when churches were closed, it is when many of us have spent more time for prayer in our homes. Indeed, during this crisis, we were confronted with the fact that amidst the fragility of the realities that we thought would endure – our business and politics, education and healthcare. But almost instantaneously, life as we know it was changed. The certainty of profit and power had been shattered by an invisible, and seemingly invincible, disease.
What provided many of us comfort? Prayer. What helped many of us bear the challenges? Faith. In a self-referential world that appears to be more fixated on ourselves, we have been led to reach out to our Creator. In a society, where there seemed to be a scientific and logical explanation to every query, now seems to hold on to one thing – faith in God.
Second, family comes first. With many of us confined to our homes, we were, in a way, “forced” to spend more time with our families. No more of those made-up excuses of going out with friends on weekends or working overtime for hours – we all stayed at home and spent time together. Families who were separated for work or school were once more reunited.
It is often said that familiarity breeds contempt. It is so easy to take for granted something that you see all too often. So is family. Not that family is any less important to us. Too often, we assume that our family will always be there, consequently, we take them for granted. More quality time is spent more in the workplace or in school, and by the time we are home, we are simply too tired to notice one another. This pandemic reversed that. We started to value each other and learn from one another’s experience. It has taught us how to be family once more.
Third, friendship enriches. Many of us have not seen our friends for months, at least physically. So, we turned to social media, to try to keep each other sane for the quarantine and update each other of what was happening in each other’s life. Then we learned what friendship truly is – connectedness.
Being friends is not simply spending time together, or having the same preferences for fun, food or say, fashion. Friendship is about multiplying the good and building a bond where we learn to care for others beyond familial and familiar ties.
More importantly, the friendships we made are reminders that leadership is first and foremost a relationship, that the true exercise of leadership is in engaging people and enabling them to become better so that in turn, they will be able to empower others to action. Furthermore, friendship can enrich not only our personal experience but more importantly our individual growth, teaching us how to care for people in an affirming and caring matter, in a way that puts value on their gifts and contributions to the community.
Fourth, find your heart. This pandemic has given many an opportunity to find your heart. More than our age counted in years, of far greater significance is when we count our age in terms of experience – and that experience is made richer with finding your purpose, that is, finding your heart. During this pandemic, we have been restricted from living our usual lives that we have discovered some untapped skill or unlocked a new passion. In this we see that no matter how difficult things may turn out to be, it is always important to continue to be firm and resolute about living for your “whys” in life.
Yes, your family, profession or business can be your “why” – or something as mundane as cooking, baking or yoga. When times are dull and uncertain, never forget to always fire up your passion. Always find your heart.
Finally, the future means now. It is often said that the young are the future. But we are far from being just the future. Our generation, too, is the present of this time. What we hope our future will be, we must shape today. In the same way, we must always be aware that the decisions we make today, the beliefs we espouse and the lifestyles that we follow will all impact the kind of world that we will live in tomorrow.
We used to think of connectedness as global, where we transcend countries and culture to ensure that whatever we do in one part of the planet, will not harm but instead improve the quality of life in another part of the world. That is true, but there is an even far more important aspect of connectedness, that is, one that goes beyond time and generations. We must understand the consequences of our actions in the present, so that we can create a better future for generations to come.
If there is anything that we have learned from this pandemic, it is learning these simple but meaningful life lessons: Faith matters. Family comes first. Friendship enriches. Find your heart. Future means now.