Do not let the fear of the pandemic trap you from becoming the best version of yourself
Updated: Feb 18
“No one knows the best way, but let’s try and have some empathy at this point of time.” – Dato’ ‘Aliyah Karen
We had the immense pleasure of inviting Dato' 'Aliyah Karen, the Chairperson and Founder of the World on Health Foundation, for an insightful discussion on the topic of empathy and leadership in the era of COVID-19. Dato’ ‘Aliyah Karen has been involved in the non-profit scenario for the past 25 years. After the initial 3 years in the non-profit scene, Dato’ ‘Aliyah moved on to lead a non-profit organisation for 22 years, and she invested the majority of her career in this organisation. During these 22 years as the head of this non-profit organisation, she has undertaken many initiatives and conducted many trainings with the goal of advocating for various noble causes in Malaysia. Dato’ ‘Aliyah decided to leave the non-profit industry after 25 worthwhile years in order to pursue her PhD.
Speaking on the topic of empathy and leadership, as a leader in the non-profit sphere, Dato' 'Aliyah shared with us on how vital it is for leaders to find the right balance between ensuring a business’ performance and taking care of their employees; especially in times of crisis. She added, “My advice to lots of employers at this point of time is to have open honest conversations with your employees”. This is because employers need to be constantly aware of their employees’ current situation. Employers need to know of how they have supported their employees during difficult times and how they have enabled their employees to grow to their fullest potential, or if they have done so at all. Employers who realise the importance of these information should look to hold honest and open conversations with their employees. Through this step, they will not only be able to realise their employees’ situation, but also give out information to the employees about the company and business. When employers do this, they can rest assured that the employees will look after them in times to come.
When talking about the anxieties that this pandemic had caused to everyone around the world, Dato’ ‘Aliyah started off by asking “What can you do about it?” It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to feel a sense of anxiety and worry, these feelings made worse by the sheer uncertainties that the future may hold. In light of this, Dato’ ‘Aliyah offered a different perspective to view these issues. She said, “I would rather focus on what I can do than what I can’t do”. Dato’ ‘Aliyah explained that instead of focusing on the things that we can’t change, we should look to the circumstances that we can change.
But, the question still remains, what can we do?
Dato’ ‘Aliyah gave many insightful suggestions on how we can accomplish this. Firstly, we can count our blessings and be grateful for what we already have. We can appreciate the fact that despite all that is going on around us, we are still standing strong here and we have a roof over our head. There are a lot of things that we could be grateful for. “It’s not the end of the world”, says Dato’ ‘Aliyah.
As the conversation comes to a close, she ended with a ‘pesanan’ for everyone out there. She said, “Don’t think people out there need your charity. I think people out there need some humanity at this one of time”. During this difficult time, it’s okay if you are not okay to give at this moment, but simply being there for someone, being a friend to someone and just reaching out to them when they need help could actually brighten up someone’s day.