The Lockdown Resilience Quandary. Here we go again – another lockdown. For many, this is the toughest lockdown yet; the phoney lockdown-lite of Autumn 2020 raised too many hopes, for businesses and personal lives alike. Just when people thought they were OK, the winter (AKA “flu season”) returned, bringing with it lethal spikes in Covid-19 infections, and the inevitability of another total national lockdown here in the UK.
Hopes are being crushed as I type.
When the UK went into total lockdown in March 2020, there was a rush by many counsellors and coaches to support keyworkers and NHS professionals in their “resilience”. This was used to describe anything from listening to beleaguered health professionals rant about the lack of PPE, to counselling distressed keyworkers whose clients had died of Covid-19. Now there is another total lockdown, I see on social media another flurry of offers, which fellow coaches publicise and which their online followers applaud.
As a misanthropic maverick, this was not my first response last year, and it is not my first response now. I was in a quandary, and in that quandary I remain. Does my lack of direct contribution make me a bad human being? Let’s examine the evidence …
First, I self-identify as a misanthrope, so my natural inclination is to do something to help in a situation … but that will only be something private about helping as my first preference. It’s just how I am wired. I didn’t offer my coaching to healthcare professionals. I did spend the first three months of the first lockdown as a keyworker myself, mobilising and operating a charity debt helpline online, helping hundreds of people caught out by the sudden lack of income.
That didn’t get onto social media.
Second, my maverick preferences mean that I am wilfully independent . So, just because my coaching peers listed themselves publicly as providing support, I did not feel the need to follow the herd. I kept private in my support in the crisis. I wasn’t a pan-banger either. This wasn’t because I don’t support the NHS – I do, passionately – but because banging pots on a Thursday and then voting to deny those same health workers a pay rise felt like hypocrisy to me.
The Lockdown Resilience Quandary …
This is not about smug self-congratulation. Mavericks cannot see their options in any way which is inauthentic. If we did, we wouldn’t think and act as Mavericks. So my maverick identity has been driving how I respond to the global pandemic for almost a year. I have played my part in a way which meant I did not put myself into a situation where I would be uncomfortable, which meant I could keep myself resourceful for the volunteers and clients of the helpline, and for my own business clients (I was also working in my consultancy all the while). It also meant that I didn’t put my contribution on social media – to do so felt inauthentic for me. That is not a judgement of others who did, simply a reflection that it wasn’t how I felt comfortable to respond. Supporting the NHS is forever, not just the pandemic. Surely it should be up to me, how I do it?
So, my misanthropic maverick nature has placed me in this quandary. I have used my wilful independence, however, to reframe the situation. As a coach, that’s a first option for me, after all. I choose to see my work in the last lockdown as a contribution which worked at that time and I know it worked. Fellow coaches were not asked for help for their advertised services, so I do not feel that I was undermining the national effort by diverting my energies to VOIP telephone lines and debt advice.
I know I was able to make a difference.
That was then. Now, with another lockdown, what do I do? How ought I to respond? I am no longer with the charity, so that is not an option. The lockdown is likely to last for months, as the cold weather encourages the virus to spread virulently. So, my task is to find a way to contribute, which chimes with my maverick profile. I don’t know what it is yet, other than masking-up, washing my hands and keeping away from everyone (as a misanthrope none of this is hard!). What I do know is that I will find a way and it will make a measurable difference to people finding it tough.
I can’t promise I will tell you about it, tho’.
 Judith Germain has been defining Mavericks as wilfully independent since 2005