Claire Downey, Class of 2020
Claire Downey, Class of 2020

What opportunities are now available to you because of the pandemic?

There is a Jedi mind trick that can help you to be resilient. When you are up against an obstacle, ask yourself, “What does this make possible?” By learning to focus on the possibilities, you can build your hope muscle.

That’s precisely what Claire Downey has learned to do.

Claire had a dream job that allowed her to travel worldwide and meet all the sports superstars. “I fell into a career in broadcasting,” Claire explains. “At university, I studied Sport and Exercise Science. Knowing I wanted to work in sport and not a lot else, I applied for a sports media graduate scheme. Somehow, I got the job despite my blue hair. My career has blossomed since, and I have been lucky to work at major events worldwide.”

Then she was stricken by a rare disease. “It’s not been easy, though. While working at a tennis tournament, I developed a rare autoimmune disease that knocked me for six months. It’s called Miller Fisher. I’m told it affects 1-2 people per million in their entire lifetime.

“Your immune system attacks your nerves. It leaves you with no reactions and, in my case, affecting my sight. Some people stay like this permanently, but I was one of the lucky ones that got better.

Then COVID-19 appeared, and Claire couldn’t work. “When lockdown happened in London, I had time to re-evaluate. I didn’t feel like I was contributing properly to society. My illness had also changed my outlook on life. When I heard about the Class of 2020 project, I couldn’t wait to get involved. Class of 2020 is a free e-learning community platform to boost confidence, teach new skills, and improve employability. Somehow, I ended up as part of the management team. The project is extraordinary.

“We have a group of volunteers who have never met each other, working together to build something remarkable. We created a free online learning platform where 18 to 25-year-olds can access learning materials donated by major companies.

“The Class of 2020 offering has a real community vibe. It helps build confidence, improve skills, and increase employability. The project is right at its infancy, and we have had many ups and quite a few downs. As we launch, it’s remarkable to see how much progress has been made, but I can also see we have a long road ahead of us.

A Lesson Learned

“Working on the Class of 2020 is sometimes very scary. I’ve been involved in things I would never have dreamed of, and it’s easy to feel out of your depth (imposter syndrome). It would be easy to give up, but that doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes you must take a deep breath and take the plunge.”

A Call to Action

“Take some time to assess what interests you. See the possibilities in COVID-19.

“Many of us are working from home. It offers more time to do the things we believe in – be it a hobby, mentoring, volunteering, learning a language, or setting up a new skill. Also, please get in touch if you want to get involved in Class of 2020. We are always looking for content to put on the platform. We’re looking for written or recorded content. And, if you think you could do with learning a new skill, please check out the website.”

Chief Learning Officer
About the Author
Tony Loyd is a leadership development expert. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and coach. He helps purpose-driven business leaders to thrive so that they can connect with others and contribute to the world. Find out more at https://TonyLoyd.com.

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