By Zaithoon Bin Ahamed
Colombo, April 18 (www.medium.com): About a month into the lockdown, I am getting quite accustomed to this new way of work and life. I have a routine that encompasses my daily morning reading, followed by exercise, gardening, cooking, winding down, catching up with friends, and doing some reflecting & writing. I love routines and it has brought about a sense of normalcy for me within the confines of my home.
It’s become a little easier to access and source essentials now (even a few non-essential indulgences, if required) to get by. The other day, a friend I was talking to, compared this time indoors to that of a ‘prison.’ I joked back saying, even prison sentences could be well spent depending on what you choose to do during that time.
With that thought, I had a business idea — to venture into the online grocery store operation that seemed to be the need of the hour on many fronts; for customers to source their daily and basic requirements, for small-scale suppliers to sell their goods, for delivery services to get back on track, and for people involved in highly impacted industries to explore alternative avenues of income to sustain themselves, at least for now.
It only took around two days for a website to be set up, and a few phone calls later to collaborate and bring all stakeholders together, we went live offering fresh meats, poultry, and eggs you could order online and have them delivered to your door within 48 hours.
Getting a payment gateway to make purchases online was a bit of a challenge; however, we worked around that too for customers who opted for cashless transactions. It took zero monetary investment, a bit of creativity and lots of quick thinking and implementation.
If this takes off, who knows, it might be my retirement plan. Entrepreneurship is not something I’ve explored or have wanted to do, but I tried, with a little help. Even if I don’t pursue this further when I eventually and hopefully return back to my day job, someone can run the show. It’s a time that presents opportunities for those who are willing to go the extra mile or pursue new things when your ‘normal’ has been rocked.
“To make an end is to make a beginning.” — T.S. Eliot
Something that started out as an experiment just for fun, is now proving to be potentially successful — possibly even after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. I was relating this story to many of my friends, and I was intrigued to hear some of theirs. A few of them (some who hold fairly senior roles in well-known corporates) were experimenting with hobbies and business plans of their own, ranging from farming, baking cakes & desserts, cooking gourmet weekend meals, and spice trading, among others.
While COVID-19 will spur change in how corporates will operate in the new, brave world, it will no doubt redefine and shape us in many ways — our resilience, ability to adapt and respond positively, and alter our egos. This crisis has taught many of us the uncertainty and vulnerability of life itself. No matter how successful you are, how much wealth you have amassed, where you live or what you drive, where you wine and dine, or what title or status you hold, it’s the ultimate test of mental toughness and ability to respond in a way that will enable you to reinvent yourself if required.
We often get too hung up and obsessed with lifestyles that we allow to rule us and define us. Social media often exaggerate those falsehoods that feed our hungry egos. In the end, the real test of strength is our mental well-being to weather the emotional storms and our physical strength to fight whatever monster that may enter our bodies. Nothing else matters.
“If all you can do is crawl, start crawling.” — Rumi
In the past month, I’ve learnt to let go of people and things that haven’t added much value and meaning to my life, and pulled closer those that have and continue to do so. I’ve picked up again a few projects that I had forgotten I enjoyed so much because I let my normal things consume me. I’ve written more poetry and reconnected with a talented composer buddy so we can work on some songs together, which we had promised to do since our one-hit wonder a few years ago for a stage drama. I’ve made a few new friends who were mere acquaintances before; given the luxury of time to connect and discuss common interests, those connections have now added new meaning to me. Life seems richer and fuller again, without the whims and fancies that are generally short-lived anyway.
Ten years from now, hopefully social distancing will be a ‘thing of the past’ and we can sit close enough to hug and hold hands as a symbol of love and care for those who matter to us the most. And in conversation, we may reminisce the birth of successful businesses that leveraged an opportunity to offset another that was fading out. Above all, the most important notes we will perhaps be exchanging is how it redefined and reshaped us as individuals. And it will be those that live now with humility and positivity that will survive the emotional meltdown to tell their inspirational tales.
“To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.” — Seneca