“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance” (Bruce Barton)

Facing a crisis is not a new concept for the world – there have been many crises that needed solving: world wars, pandemics, tsunamis and other natural disasters, etc. The current COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of global warming (partly caused by our own untethered pollution), however, have been and are continuing to be far-reaching in impact, for example:

  • Global warming: season shifts with unprecedented storms, cyclones, or heavy rains causing either flooding, mudslides and related disasters and loss of life, or droughts, on the other hand, causing famine, poverty and related ills
  • COVID-19: damage worldwide on lives and livelihoods, mental health and emotional well-being

The negative impact of a global crisis permeates every aspect of our beings. The human being is not designed for absolute isolation (as if living within a safe bubble was truly possible) and thus can’t protect his or her humanness from the negative effects of the crisis. Even if one doesn’t contract the virus, for instance, one is still impacted by anxiety, uncertainty and even pain (like the loss of a job, colleague or a loved-one). All of this negativity causes stress, an overabundance of which can be quite harmful.

Bravery within a crisis commences with self-awareness, an understanding of one’s current well-being and levels of stress. Alinda Nortje, founder and chief executive officer of Free To Grow, helpfully suggests self-awareness in five related areas of one’s life, by using the acronym “BRAVE”:

  1. Body – check whether you are eating more or less, check for pain, headaches, cramps or ulcers, check whether you are sleeping more or less than normal and check whether you are smoking or drinking more than usual.
  2. Relationships – check whether you are withdrawing from others, feeling alone when with others, being more impatient and experiencing less intimacy.
  3. Attitude – check whether you are feeling negative about yourself, down, depressed, moody or sad. Feeling overwhelmed by these emotions disempowers and debilitates.
  4. Value add – check whether you are struggling to focus at work, making more mistakes than usual, working more slowly and thus not finishing your work and drifting or struggling to remember things.
  5. Energy – check whether you are not enjoying activities that you used to enjoy, not exercising because you don’t feel like it, are always feeling tired and are not able to stop worrying.

Severe symptoms in any one or more of the BRAVE components add layers of stress to your life, the same of which can eventually become unmanageable – a weight too heavy to bear. While bravery commences with self-awareness, it grows with solving areas that cause stress. Seek help where needed – we are all experiencing stress in one form or another at this time. You are not alone. Colleagues, friends, mentors and coaches, even psychologists and other professionals, can all be helpful in your quest to re-establish some form of equilibrium in your life. Solving issues that matter relieve stress and remove unnecessary burdens.

The final step to being brave is to give of yourselves to others in need. As your gaze shifts away from yourselves to needs around you, you become re-energised to contribute in meaningful ways. Give opportunity for your inner strengths to come to the fore. O W Holmes notes wisely: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. Hone your strengths so that they can be utilised powerfully and appropriately.

There is a real need for bravery in a crisis. There is no chance of absolute isolation and the negative effects of a crisis impact everyone. You have an important support function, however, during a crisis – helping others in their time of need. Demonstrate bravery in action.

Free To Grow offers the workshop “Staying Strong” to provide the skills necessary for a demonstration of bravery – for more information, contact me on jonathan@ftgsa.co.za

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