The Virus Holds The Mirror Up

I never ‘thought’ that I would ever write an article like this, but I am going to.

The virus holds the mirror up.

How dare I write something like this some people will think. Thank goodness, we are seeing this opportunity for what it is, other people will think.

I am terrified that this virus will keep coming back others will think. In fact, there will be 7.5 billion independent, yet connected views of what this virus means to each individual. 7.5 billion different yet connected thoughts about this external event in the moment which is NOT causal to our wellbeing or how we experience life.  What we think about it IS.

This is so clearly further reinforced by my recent journey through testicular cancer where my experience of that journey was completely transformed by how I thought about it i.e as just a thing outside of me, a data point, and not something that owned or consumed me.  My thinking and your thinking in the moment has the power to do that.

The mirror is demisting

Please watch this 2 mins poem as it is highly relevant to this short exploration.

Yesterday I listened to this podcast episode with Jeff Ikler and Richard Gerver as they discussed the now and future of education.  It is only 14 minutes long, please invest your time, it will blow your mind if open, I promise! I have known of Richard’s work for some years, having read his book Change, seen him speak at a London Business Forum event and more recently, read his amazing book Education, A Manifesto For Change, however, this conversation at the height of the global pandemic held the mirror up to my thinking like never before.

What made such an impact on me?

I will share three key reflections but the first was the deepest and most profound and you can find a recent LinkedIn post here too.

Richard shared that “What we have seen in the last few weeks is the extraordinary natural talent and passion and commitment of a brilliant group of people who perversely because of horrific events, have been set free. What we have seen is that innovation and creativity, that core laser-like focus on children and the young people in their care and need, come to the fore.”

Just think about that for a second.

Not only educators, but we have all been set free. If we take the opportunity and can dissolve our thinking to realise that we create our reality through our thinking in the moment, we can dissolve the unhelpful beliefs and open up a whole new world of opportunity. Indeed, I spoke about part of my journey into ‘waking up’ to this opportunity 18 months ago after attending a Quality of Mind retreat with Piers Thurston, but I never thought we would get the opportunity of a global reset, inclusively, for every single human being at once, which is what we have been offered through natures handbrake right now.

Back to education

Ironically, the very skills that the World Economic Forum and other research institutions state are critical for students to develop as we navigate iterative and rapid change in the 21st century, are the VERY skills that are innate to every single one of us.

We are innately creative.

We are innately collaborative.

We are innately problem-solvers.

The solution to one of the biggest educational and systemic challenges of our time sits within our young people and within every human being already.

What gets in the way?

Richard shares as my second key takeaway from this conversation, “Policymakers need for control at every level. There is an assumption of incompetence. They believe that you need to hyper-manage systems in order to get the best out of them.” This command and control mindset goes beyond the industrial revolution, it is an ego and lack of self-worth problem. The more we reinforce the ‘old ways of working’ or ‘industrial revolution’ mantras and language, and I have done that for too long, it gives away our power to a ‘thing’ outside of us.  David Marquet joined me to talk about leadership is language previously and seems relevant for these reflections.

We need to call this out and realise WE are the problem.  There are natural systems and human systems, connected, and we ARE the system.  What we think, say and do all contribute to the system.  

Behind our excessive egos and desire for control and power is love and connection.  That freedom that Richard is pointing us towards, which is innate and ready for us, sits hiding in plain sight and THAT is what this virus is all about for me now I see my mirror even more clearly.


Garry Turner
Garry Turner
Combining a powerful mix of international sales and culture expertise, Garry is facilitating individual and team transformations as an interpersonal catalyst. With over 20 years of sales and relationship building experience and qualified in organisational design and development, learning & development and as a chartered member of the CIPD, he focuses on bringing intentional human-centred working to all walks of life, and has the evidence to validate this necessary paradigm shift. Whether through connection-centred workshops, keynote talks, live events or through Thinking Partnerships, Garry is driven by his two non-negotiable core values of growth and connection.

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  1. The world is changing and education must also change. Everywhere, societies are undergoing a phase of profound transformation and this requires new forms of education to promote the skills that societies and economies need, today and tomorrow. This means going beyond literacy and the acquisition of mathematical skills to focus on learning environments and new approaches to education that lead to greater justice, social equity and global solidarity.

    • thank you for sharing Aldo, I totally agree, bugger system thinking and connection must be the norm

  2. Garry, thanks for your deep reflections here. I find this point of Richard’s very intriguing when we look at education: “Policymakers need for control at every level. There is an assumption of incompetence. They believe that you need to hyper-manage systems in order to get the best out of them.” But deeper still is the need to revisit the fundamental goal of education in the 21st century. What are we trying to provide and accomplish on behalf of kids? There is no universal agreement.

    • thank you Jeff, I wonder if we lack involving kids in the process. We can learn so much from them so why not co-create education (60% led with 40% iterative, for example?) You have me thinking further.

  3. I see it as world peace in disguise… but it is freedom from all that was killing us and adding to stress and health issues….. over worked, time consuming commutes, after school activities, event planning , fashion demands? Cooking, cleaning, parenting… Divorce, extended family care, elder parents, outrageous home prices… etc
    we were being squeezed to the core… this is kind of revamping things in a way too.
    not meaning to rant… it was just too much…24/7….something bad to give
    Thanks for this Garry!

    • thank you for your comment Paula such a rich reflection, brought the situation to fie even clearer for me, thanks.