WIG CEO Blog June 2020: Lock down, skills up.

Over the last weeks, many have found time on their hands and have taken the opportunity for self-improvement. However its worth making a rather obvious point. A lot of people have less 'spare' time. Those supporting essential services or fighting for business survival have been working harder, and any focus on self-improvement is an unknown luxury. Many others have found themselves just working harder, so where is this additional time coming from? Essentially, I suppose it is time we used to spend commuting or socialising. Also, for the silver lining of living without FOMO (everyone is in a similar boat), there is the slight cloud of feeling guilty about not using the time that has become available for something worthy. A subtly different pressure which some people resist more effectively than others. Nevertheless, one can't live by box-sets alone.

Most people can identify something – some activity or skill that has been left on the shelf. It lies there receiving the odd guilty glance. That forgotten passion for baking, watercolours, language proficiency or even the sorting of the many more photographs the digital revolution has left us. So, what to do? Well, the obvious answer is what gives the greatest pleasure, and this means a unique personal blend of both satisfaction and relaxation.

Interestingly neither of these are related to effort. There are those, and I am not one of them, who will happily crack in a half marathon a couple of times a week and find that both satisfying and relaxing. Double-digging a vegetable patch or learning Mandarin might fall into the same category. As with all things in life, there is a trade-off.  One might relax with a trashy novel but ultimately, feel the tug of guilt which ruins the satisfaction part of the equation. Finally getting around to all the work-related articles one has missed may be satisfying but actually not that relaxing. It's the satisfaction part of the deal which drives people towards some form of creativity or self-improvement. 

My team have also been keeping busy growing a multitude of skills and you can read all about it here.

For my part, I have always doodled in various notebooks through the years – although one might assume the more boring the meeting the more lavish the doodle. Actually, I discovered that I can doodle and listen at the same time. These doodles have become COVID themed cartoons which have been a good way of tracking the passage of lockdown. Well they make me smile anyway. My other distraction is to make a din on the Blues Harmonica. It's good the neighbours should know I am relaxed to my own entire satisfaction.


  • Simon Ancona CBE

    Chief Executive

    Simon Ancona enjoyed a full career in the Royal Navy including service in the Fleet Air Arm and appointments abroad in both Hong Kong and Bahrain. He commanded 4 warships, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group and UK maritime forces in the Middle East but also spent about 10 years in Whitehall including time in Ministerial outer office. His final appointment was as the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff in charge of world-wide defence diplomacy and engagement. On leaving the military he worked as the Chief Operating Officer responsible for Network Rail’s North East London and Anglia region, which provided experience of commercial delivery and the challenges of operating at the seam of both the public and private sector. Married to Lisa he lives in South London and has two university aged children. Interests include cycling, walking, theatre, cooking, books and playing the blues Harmonica (normally when the house is empty).

    Simon writes a CEO Blog for WIG on topics that he identifies as relevant to and impacting on our members.