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Isolation triggers innovation

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“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant” — Homer

One of my online mentors, Darren Hardy, said: “When the panic subsides, the most prepared will thrive.” Circumstance does not make the man; it only reveals him to himself. Every problem introduces a person to himself. Every adversity in life advances us into the next level.

Many lifesaving discoveries have been made in the wake of epidemics and many a novel written. An example is that of Williams Shakespeare, who wrote some of his best works during outbreaks of plague in London. Most of Shakespeare’s plays were inspired in times of plague. Pays, such as the epic tragedies of King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra, were inspired in these critical times.

One of the most fascinating stories of where isolation triggered innovation is that of Isaac Newton, who is synonymous with ‘falling apples’ and gravity. He rose to become the most influential scientist of the 17th Century, his ideas becoming the foundation of modern physics, after very humble beginnings.

Newton was born premature and tiny in 1642 in Woolsthorpe, England. His father, wealthy, but uneducated, died before Newton was born and he ended up being raised by his grandmother after his mother remarried. It is said he didn’t excel at school, but he ended up studying Law at Trinity College in Cambridge, part of Cambridge University. He worked as a servant to pay his bills and kept a journal about his ideas.

Unfortunately, in 1665, the Great Plague ravaging Europe came to Cambridge, forcing the university to close down. So, Newton returned home to pursue his private study in Math, Physics, Optics and Astronomy due to the lockdown declared by the government when Cambridge was closed for a couple of years due to the plague known as the Black Death.

History has it that at this time, Newton experienced his famous inspiration of gravity with the falling apple. By 1666, he had completed his early work on his three Laws of Motion. In the midst of the lockdown, isolation and quarantine, he self-inspired himself to lay the foundation of what later became the Law of Motion and Gravity, changing the field of science forever.

It was during this 18-month hiatus and lockdown that he conceived the method of infinitesimal calculus, set foundations for his theory of light and colour and gained significant insight into the laws of planetary motion, insights that eventually led to the publication of his Principia in 1687.

When the threat of the plague subsided in 1667, Newton returned to Cambridge and was elected a Minor Fellow at Trinity College, as he was still not considered a standout scholar. However, in the ensuing years, his fortune improved and he received his Master of Arts degree in 1669 before he was 27.

The emergence of a butterfly from a caterpillar has to pass through a lockdown period. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silky cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis, similar to a self-quarantine. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly.

The question is not how long this critical time would last; it is how you would emerge? Would you be the same you, hoping life goes back as it was? Or would you use this critical period as a wake-up call to take control of your life?

Are you going to emerge as a butterfly, grow wings and become fearless and in control of your life or become a victim and depend on the mercy of the government to take care of you, feed you and control all of your freedoms? The choice is yours. Emerge from your cocoon empowered or wither and shrink into dependency and apathy. Only you can choose who you are going to become.

Many times, tough times help to discover the strength we never knew was within. Our response to adversity would either leave us better or bitter, groaning or growing. William Arthur Ward said: “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” When you have a winning attitude, every challenge becomes an adventure. A winning attitude converts a mess into a message, scars into stars, trials to triumphs, bitterness into ‘betterness,’ frustration into fuel, misery into ministry and adversity into advancement.

COVID-19 would definitely alter the trends of things forever, but you alone would determine how you would emerge from it. There is movement restriction and lockdown, but your brain is not lockdown. Your dreams must not be lockdown. Your ideas must not be locked down. Don’t work eight hours for a company then be at home fully and not work on your dreams.

Use this time of isolation for innovation. Develop strategy during tragedy, creativity during chaos and plans during panic. Make this period a time of deep intercession and innovation.

There are listless numbers of things you can do during this isolation and quarantine period, but I would just be focusing on five:

Write A Book
This is the best time to put your ideas and thought patterns into a book. That book you have been struggling to publish for a very long time can be given a final push in this lockdown period.

Organise yourself and attach deadlines to your plans and it would surprise you that you would be one of those people to come out of this challenging time with a book.

Open A Blog
The easiest way to start blogging is to blog on your hobby. Is there a subject that you are particularly passionate about? It can be fashion, business, finance, politics, health, fitness, entertainment, cooking, IT or just about any category you can think of.

You can use this period of quarantine and isolation to launch your blog, as there is presently a high demand to read blogs in this period of lockdown. Start your own blog and become a member of the growing ranks of self-styled experts populating the web.

When your blog site is pulling the crowd, you would get a steady flow of visitors, which can ultimately open the doors to advertising arrangements, as well as affiliate deals.

Learn A New Language
Learning a new language can enrich your life in ways you wouldn’t expect. It can open opportunities for you and give you an edge above others. What you may want to try first is a free online course.

There are some great options, ranging from beginner and intro-level courses to conversational courses, to comprehensive ones that would leave you fluent in the language of your choice. There are different sites you can learn a new language online for free.

Online sites, such as Open Culture, Livemocha, Babbel, Busuu, Learn a Language, Mango Language, Transparent Language and Surface Language. Becoming fluent or even just mastering enough of a language to carry a conversation can be a huge help if you are considering expanding your business into a new market or accepting a job in another country.

Some languages can even help you do better business here at home.

Learn A Course Online
You can learn graphic design, online marketing skills, financial management skills, leadership skills, etc. There are listless online courses you can take advantage of it this time that are for free. There are various free online courses offered by Harvard University and the British Council.

In this lockdown period, I have personally started a free online course on ‘Management and Leadership,’ with the United Kingdom (UK) Open University, in partnership with CMI.

I also enrolled for a free course on “Child Protection: Children’s Rights in Theory and Practice” at Harvard University. Go to www.online-learning.harvard.edu and explore the free online courses.

Learn How To Play A Musical Instrument
Learning to play an instrument is a rewarding and stimulating activity. There are various YouTube tutorials on playing musical instruments for starters.

Musical instruments are categorised in families. Often, learning how to play one instrument in a family makes it easier to learn other instruments in the same family as well.

In this time of isolation and quarantine, don’t allow Netflix to reduce your net worth. This lockdown season can be your finest hour, as the world is desperately seeking for those who have the solutions they need. Endeavour to come out of this quarantine and isolation period with a new skill, more streams of income, better relationships and a renewed perspective.

If you don’t work away from this quarantine with a spike in your personal growth, elevated relationship in the home and new skills to elevate your professional life, then you may have completely wasted your time. Do what others are not doing, so that you can get the result that others won’t get.


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