Pandemics, Creativity & Mental Health – Lessons In Resilience



Pandemics, Creativity & Mental Health


Working with creatives requires an enormous amount of trust. Trust in a process, trust in a person, trust in the unknown.

Working with creatives requires an enormous amount of trust. Trust in a process, trust in a person, trust in the unknown.

One of my biggest learnings from working with our team over several years is that the creative mind is a remarkably sensitive idea-machine. It requires specific inputs and stimuli in order to perform.

You see, with creative work there is no plug and play. Factors that don’t seem to matter in most corporate environments can be make-or-break for creatives, and we indulge them, because the quality of our work depends on it.

Like almost every business (and human) I know, COVID presented us with a long list of challenges, not least the few weeks when it felt like the foundations of our business and everything that we had built were crumbling. And yet, as the days and weeks progressed, it became clear that the culture of flexibility, which we’ve worked hard to build, meant that our people (and therefore our business), were geared for the shift, even if global lockdowns forced a status quo that was previously a choice.

Looking back on this chaotic year, I can safely say that in 2020 we produced some of our finest work, partly in spite-of and yet also partly due to the immense challenges we all, collectively, encountered along the way.


In addition to my role at CAPRI, I also teach Mindfulness. During this time of reflection I have been unpacking why Mindfulness has always been so appealing to me especially as a business owner.  I can’t help but wonder if being drawn to this part-time passion/full-time way of life is more a chicken or egg – what is it about (seeing, managing and facilitating) the creative process that lends itself to the study and practice of Mindfulness?

“You can’t stop the waves,
but you can learn to surf.”

In times of crisis, my practice has been a framework of stability. The reason for this is the emphasis on resilience. What is building and cultivating resilience? In essence it’s the abiding knowledge that we’re far more capable and more equipped to deal with tough circumstances than we’re sometimes able to see when the shit hits the fan. With practice, there can be all hell breaking loose around, and there can be a version of you in the midst of it all, breathing deeply and taking things step by step, changing course when needed, remaining fluid. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn once wrote, “you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”.

Recently, while reading WGSN’s whitepaper on The Future Consumer, I was struck by the succinct way senior editor and consumer-insight guru Andrea Bell described the culture we have worked hard to instil at CAPRI in her analysis of resilience as an imperative for both consumers and businesses in a post-pandemic world.

The recipe for resilience is teeming with apparent contradictions: It requires our capacity to stay calm while accepting powerlessness. We need to acknowledge and make space for our thoughts and feelings during challenging times, while also doing everything possible to confront challenges head-on  – optimism meets acceptance meets action.

Resilience doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out – it means that you’ll be fine regardless.

This is a mindset that calmly accepts the realities of life; that everything might go wrong. But truthfully, it’s underpinned by an understanding that, ultimately, there is no ‘wrong’, there’s just a new reality that I’d not considered before, and a belief that we’ll be able to adapt. Heraclitus knew what he was talking about when he said “change is the only constant”. 

“Resilience doesn’t mean that everything
is going to work out – it means that you’ll
be fine regardless.”


CAPRI has taught me that resilience is at the core of a Creative mindset: knowing that there is an answer to a problem, a way forward somewhere, just out of sight – waiting in the ether. We keep working, even though the roadmap doesn’t account for obstacles. We often walk it with a degree of uncertainty, we get a little scared or lost. And that’s ok… we’ll get there eventually.




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