Guest Post: Necessity is the mother of invention

This year’s not really turning out how I expected – and that’s putting it quite mildly.

2019 was a big year for me. I celebrated a big milestone birthday with a blowout party and some lifetime travel adventures. I sailed boats and rode horses. I learnt new skills and gained new qualifications. I decimated my savings account. My word for 2019 was ‘unbridled-joy’ and I leaned right into that.

2020 is very different. It started badly with some family drama and plain old bad luck. Then, Coronavirus. At the time of writing, my family and I are all healthy thankfully; and like everyone around us we are living in lockdown, living in limbo as we move towards our fifth week, not knowing how and when it will all end.

It’s been hard.

For the first three weeks, we doubled down with something approaching gusto. We kicked off exercise programmes, DIY projects, cleaning, clearing, video calls with friends and family. We listened to the news and stood on the street clapping the NHS. We congratulated ourselves that our family unit was in good shape, that we were lucky, that we were coping well. 

Bank holiday weekend was a bit of a turning point as the reality set in. We hit a low. My husband and I, both running small businesses, have lost big contracts. Holidays have been cancelled. For my teenage kids, there’s no knowing for how long they’ll have to endure the unnatural pain of staying in with parents on Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t know when and if I’ll see my Dad again living in his care home. 

I’m coming to realise that I can’t control the situation and I don’t know how it will turn out. It’s not OK and I have to be OK with that. 

So I can now only float along on the current that might be pulling us all further out to sea, but as I float along, I can commit to enjoy some of the colours and sensations.

Like the pleasure of food boxes delivered by local suppliers which have inspired us with new, healthy recipes. Bike rides with my husband enjoying the signs of spring. Take-aways and film nights – a whole Bond series – with the kids. Idling hours in a small garden reading a good novel. It’s reminded me that it’s really quite lovely to float. Living in the now. 

While no one could possibly make up that this crisis is anything but a terrible thing, I can believe that good things will emerge. 

Necessity is the mother of invention. 

Claremont, the older people’s charity on whose board I’m proud to sit on as a trustee, has moved dozens of face-to-face dance, music and drama classes for older people, online. Last week a total of 88 classes were conducted via Zoom including Funky Disco with 19 participants! BluePatch is pivoting and changing its strategy to include much more online participation in activities and events. Many of my coaching clients in their leadership roles are digging deep and refining or refocusing on their core missions and what that means. Good things – sometimes transformational things – are emerging. 

We don’t know how long this crisis will go on and what will happen between then and now. But I do know that there will be things that we can take out of the brackets with us, good things to hang on to, to take back to the ‘real’ world and our next chapter, whatever that may be. 

So if in one year’s time you could look back and see that something really good had emerged for you from this crisis – what would it be?


Alex Oliver is a strategy consultant, business mentor and leadership coach to ambitious people who want to get more out of life, achieve bigger goals, and have a positive impact in the world.  Coach to our own CEO Jane Langley, Alex believes that we are all leaders and have the potential to be powerful beyond measure. More about Alex can be found via her website