Chris Nel

Before you go … what have you learned?

A key part of being adaptive is the ability to not simply identify but to actually apply what you have learnt from what you have experienced. To modify your status quo. It is what we as coaches find the core of our work.  So, as we all set off on our post-lockdown return to ‘as normal as possible, as soon as possible’, I wanted to invite you to join me in reflecting on the most striking things you have observed in the last 12 weeks & how you plan for them to change your life - for the better. To get you thinking about your own learning and application … Here are some of mine:



Human kindness has been for me, the big winner. It has been the real upside of my experience of the COVID-19 lockdown. I have experienced so much more human kindness than has been normal for me. The surge in volunteering, calling friends and relations, donating, running family zoom quizzes, virtual dinner parties,  watching out for each other or just a bit more friendly neighbourhood banter.

Why is that?  I believe that the existential threat posed by COVID-19 has revealed to all but the most insensitive, our very real need for and dependency on each other. As we have collectively plunged down Maslow’s hierarchy, we have all become more inclined to collaborate, listen, support and generally treat each other with a bit more dignity and respect – because when we are threatened, we need each other more than we do when everything is safe. Its been the best bit of the last 3 months for me.

My Action – As well as manning the  Quest Leadership Helpline, I also volunteered with Team Rubicon to deliver PPE & prescriptions. I have got so more out of this volunteering than I put in … that as my business returns to normal, I am going to carve out the time to continue to work with Team Rubicon.  


Virtual Experiences  As a professional coach I have struggled over the last few months to build online the kind of rapport needed to be an effective coach. Over lockdown and with social distancing in place for the foreseeable future, I am worried about my ability to start virtual coaching relationships. I have found I can continue to effectively coach existing clients online. The people I already know and have already  built a strong relationship with. But I find it difficult to do that with new clients online …  video conferencing seems to be a great tool for broadcasting information and checking that tasks have been completed or not. But for me, it struggles to accurately convey emotion – sentiments, attitudes, anxieties, frustrations etc …  to the degree required for successful coaching interventions.  

My Action – I suspect know some most of this is my problem. My preference for coaching face to face. It is however a part of the future for my profession and I am going to commit time to develop my use of the online coaching app RISE.  By this time next year I want >25% of my coaching income to be generated online. 


Disappointing Journalism: For me the reputation of journalism has been a big loser over the last 3 months. I do believe in freedom of the press. It is a corner stone of any healthy democracy, BUT it must be an intelligent pursuit of truth and objective examination of the actions of people in power. Not the kind of smug sensationalism, over-zealous witch-hunting, blame allocation and attempted apology extraction  I have seen in the last 3 months. 

A strong, penetrating question from the media on the Government daily COVID-19 briefings has for example been a rarity.  More often than not, the best questions have come from members of the public. There are of course a few exceptions, but on the whole I have been left with the impression that journalists are in the business of generating news stories rather than providing us with high quality information with which we can make decisions about the way we lead our lives. News is I believe should be a utility service to empower people. Our media are not currently serving us well.

Action  I have become lazy about how I keep myself well informed. I have recently become more sceptical about my sources of information. I am going to work harder on finding the facts, rather than relying on the opinions of others … Im going to delete my Twitter app… I will stop reading ‘a paper’ and subscribe to “The Week” an online (and paper) news magazine, in an attempt to obtain a wider spectrum of viewpoints  than I would have consumed pre-COVID-19. I will stop being so lazy!

Over the last 3 months: 

  • What have you experienced? 
  • What have your learnt? 
  • What are you going to do about it? 

Let us know. Publishing it feels to me right now like a good way of committing!