If someone had told me my week-long holiday in January would turn into a 76-day lockdown I would have thought they were mad. What I’ve just emerged from is unprecedented in our times. It required everyone involved to find a mindset that would help them overcome the fear of the unknown.
In the early days of the outbreak, most people in Wuhan, including me, did not feel much impact. We could still go out and buy food in the supermarket. Yes, the atmosphere had changed, there were less people, there was no strong New Year atmosphere on the street, but my internal alarm had not started ringing.
Time for teamwork
An upsurge in cases in mid-February was followed by tight restrictions in Wuhan and the reality of the situation hit.
Sourcing food became a problem. In my community of over 1,000 homeowners, panic set in. We didn’t know how to buy grain, oil, rice, noodles and vegetables, and we knew very little about epidemic prevention. We began to discuss when the lockdown would end, and how we should survive.
These conversations, although dark and worrisome, also gave me moments of hope: I could see a community spirit developing, teams of older men and women were finding farms online to buy from and have deliveries made directly to our community gates. They would then distribute the food to local families.
This can-do positive attitude and bravery inspired me. My family didn’t agree with me to join them at first because we had no protective clothing, no disposable gloves or raincoats, and only masks. But in the end, I convinced them. I joined in the team to distribute supplies and maintain order. We tried to distribute supplies in open areas, kept a good distance between each other, and took sufficient protective measures. When we got home, we washed hands, changed clothes and disinfected everything immediately.
Managing my mental health
In this era of information overload sometimes it’s difficult to tell reality from fake news. I approached it by staying calm, opening the window, looking around me and seeing things with my own eyes. I found this controlled approach reduced the terror and made my psychological defense strong. If you constantly consume too much information, your confidence will suffer.
Communication with others also kept me balanced during this time. Talking with other family members, neighbors and colleagues kept my spirits up. One day I received photos of flowers blooming in the fields from my relatives outside Hubei province and I suddenly realized that the bad news I was exposed to was not the whole of the world.
Sport also kept me on track and improved the family atmosphere. I taught my wife and children to do some simple exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups at home, which was not only physically good for us, but made us laugh as a family.
Adapting my plan
At adidas I’m a Director of Marketplace Management which is a very hands-on role that sometimes requires being on the ground in key commercial centers. It was clear I had to adapt my usual way of working and use my working from home time differently.
Firstly, I took stock, sorting out my work after the Spring Festival. I collected and analyzed industry news reports, thought about how I could do my work better, and where my business opportunities were.
I broke my goals down into monthly, weekly and even two-day goals. This was how I could be more efficient working from home and create the self-discipline I needed.
Staying in touch with my team members and leaders on Skype and WeChat was essential, as was keeping up to date with the bigger company picture through our intranet and Yammer. It provided the inspiration and the focus I needed to continue to push forward and stay optimistic.
Wuhan has been devastated and we have lost many loved ones. But the shoots of optimism are growing along with the cherry blossoms. We as a society have changed and our way of living in this city has been altered to make us more considerate and more supportive. We worked together to survive this adversity, our resilience is strengthened, and we are, most importantly, optimistic about the future.