I used to have a team based out in Shanghai, China and one also in Seoul, Korea. The Shanghai team used to like nothing more than to challenge me to eat unusual local delicacies. My first day there on each trip would invariably involve lunching on chicken feet, thousand-year-old eggs and any number of things that I was grateful not to recognise.
The team in Korea however, took an entirely different approach to testing my fortitude. Que the Korean barbecue and kimchi - five nights in a row. When asked how my trip was on my return I’d often regale technicolour stories about my love for Korea, but end the chat with the statement; I don’t need to eat kimchi again for a month or two. So I’m surprised to be writing that Kimchi has now stolen my heart.
I recently read that Koreans are in a desperate state since there is not enough cabbage to make their beloved dish. Well, it just so happens that my garden is full of the stuff and so I decided to see if I could fill the hole in supply. I have never made kimchi before and therefore the whole thing was a learning journey.
It struck me that we are rather interesting beasties. Unless there was an absence of cabbage I would’ve had an absence in motivation to make this Korean delicacy. My life in lockdown has been similar. I love it rather too much. I have realised that when you peel back to the basics of life much of my time and efforts were spent on things that don’t count. Now that I don’t have free choice to go anywhere, see anyone or indeed do anything; I really value the deliberate choice of how I spend my time. Often doing less, but spending more deliberate time doing each thing.
Like most people on this planet I’ve always been a busyness addict. I loved to fill my senses 24/7 with any stimulus that I could and what I truly love about lockdown is that this is no longer possible, meaning I choose much more wisely. My quest to make kimchi is also very good for me. In times of emotional/energetic turmoil a simple way to make sure that a foundational energy is sound, is to spend more time looking after our bodies.
The opportunity to workout every day, go cold-water swimming and cook every meal from scratch is one so delicious I must savour it. My whole energetic system has elevated as a result and that would only happen with the reality of lockdown.
I’ve just made my third batch of kimchi and I am not going to pretend that there is much similarity between them and the ones I sampled in Korea. There are so many different ingredients that even though directionally I am making a similar dish, the flavours aromas and textures are unique each time. Not being a fan of following recipes to the letter; my creativity is flourishing in the kitchen and every first taste is always a surprise.
Being creative has been crucial to survive in the current climate, and especially at the beginning of lockdown when my business took a massive hit (events businesses aren’t so popular in times of Covid).
As a result we have reinvented what we do. Que a rapid shift into digital delivery and the business was propelled forward into a world of tech. I’ve written a new book. Mastered how to deliver digital work that is equally as impactful as having people in the room.
Fundamentally, my business colleagues and I’ve learnt how to manage our energy regardless of how things are spinning on the planet and I’ve never been more excited about today or indeed about the future
For me the biggest learning is to make sure that I look after myself in these times and as many people as I can around me. Each day I achieve this is a great one.
But whilst I’m keeping the engine finally tuned it’s vital for me to experiment with all the ingredients of life that are available and then like every first taste of my kimchi; each day holds a novel surprise.
There is something incredibly satisfying about creating something new and different every day. It’s in our nature to do so.
For some that will be demonstrated in the kitchen; with magnificent sourdough loaves, and for some in reinventing who we are and how we create value.
I for one am very grateful for this wake up call.
I do hope that I’ll never go back to the previous life I led and to always remember that, when we create space for the things that count, every day becomes more shiny.
And I know full well that every kimchi I make will be as unique as the date on which it was born, get in touch if you fancy giving my recipe a go!
Photo by Kim Deachul on Unsplash