The Real Lessons Of Lockdown

It came quickly – the announcement “There will be total isolation” for 21 days.  From the moment our President made the announcement, it became real. “This is dangerous for me and my family”, “This is going to create an economic crisis”, “How will I cope in quarantine with my family, that I have not spent much time with recently?” “What if I get retrenched?” “What am I going to do with all this time?”

And so, the unprecedented, unplanned for, unprepared for began.  Everyone who had a laptop and email was frantically online.  Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebX filled our lounges, living spaces and make-shift desks.  “What do we need to think about?” was a phrase I heard.  “We need to come up with innovative ideas and practices, now is the time!”  “Get your teams together, talk to them, think, think! of how you can manage this?”

South Africans who are known for their work ethic globally were in a quandary.  Weekends felt uncomfortable.  People began cleaning out their garages, re-packing cupboards, and shelves.  Rooms were decluttered (not a bad idea), ornaments were polished and steamed.

Minute by minute updates on the Worldometer reported deaths and new infections.  Those resisting the lockdown were brutally dealt with.  Global news was bleak.  Anxiety was rising.  Companies had enforced many to take annual leave.  One company, I heard about were going to implement retrenchments.

Stop everyone!  Try to understand what is happening.  Our world is changing faster than our ability to understand what is really happening.  I quote Alan Cohen’s wisdom :

  • “Our culture is technologically overfed but spiritually malnourished. 
  • Scientific knowledge has advanced faster than the wisdom to use it. 
  • We have rocketed to the moon but not risen above nationalism and prejudice. 
  • We have plumbed the depths of the ocean but hide in the shallows of our hearts. 
  • We’ve photographed every inch of the earth but the picture of why we are here, remains undeveloped. 
  • We can move masses of people at astonishing speeds, but can’t figure out why so many are depressed and dispirited”

If we can begin to understand what is happening astrologically (I find it overwhelming) Mars is moving through the 2020 Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn.  I don’t understand fully what this means, but when they say “Fasten your seatbelts”, we had better hold on tight! 

We have all been forced to slow down.  Deepak Chopra said we are experiencing loss/grief for a way of life that can never return.  This is a time for a great deal of pain and vulnerability.

But there is a way through this.  The solution lies inside of us, not outside.  By following our simple formula for managing emotions, you can gain a greater understanding, peace and acceptance of the turmoil around you.

  1. Sit quietly and soften your shoulders and gently close your eyes.
  2. Become aware of your breathing and try to breathe in for 6 seconds, in through the nose and breathe out of the nose for a full 6 seconds. Feel the cool air coming in and the warm air as it leaves the nose.
  3. Bring your awareness to any discomfort, fear, anxiety that you are feeling and just watch it for a few moments.  Become aware of where it is anchoring itself in the body.
  4. After a few moments, ask what is the wisdom of this emotion trying to tell you and wait for the answer.
  5. When you have the answer, ask “What would I like to be feeling?”
  6. Now reach for a better feeling thought. E.g. “Although I am anxious about losing income, I know that I have the resourcefulness and will get through this.  I am a survivor.  I know this difficult phase will pass.  I know the spirit inside me, is greater than anything in the outside world.”
  7. Pass any difficult feelings/thoughts you’re experiencing to a higher power.
  8. Know that you can practice acceptance of this moment.

It is acceptance and mindfulness that are important at this time.  Acceptance of what is, knowing that this too shall pass.  Mindfulness, conscious awareness of self, heart, mind, body and spirit.  Only this moment exists and sadly most of us are in the past or calculating the future furiously as stated above.  To be here now, to find a quiet moment and to get in touch with your authentic higher self, is the only way to move through this madness.

If you would like to excavate deeper questions to understand your purpose, vision and values, email us at and we will provide them to you.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

EQ is a critical competence for leaders now more than ever before!

Michael D’Antonio author of the book “Never Enough : Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” has delivered a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s failed leadership during the Covid19 pandemic.  As D’Antonio states “His lack of emotional intelligence and empathy,  causes him to struggle to relate to human suffering”  This lack of responsibility and accountability do not bode well in terms of how history will judge him.

A good leader accepts complete personal responsibility if the decision he has made leads to failure.  He will not “pass the buck” to his colleagues or subordinates, which is what Trump is doing by pitting states against each other and attacking journalists who ask legitimate questions about the pandemic.

History reminds us that during the second World War General Dwight D Eisenhower shouldered the responsibility of failure.  The weather conditions in the first few days of June 1944 caused his air commander to argue for further postponement of the invasion of Europe.  After consulting with his generals, Eisenhower himself took the momentous decision to take the risk and go ahead on 6 June 1944.  Before the invasion fleet set out, he wrote this press release, to be used if necessary:

“Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops.  My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.  If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt, it is mine alone”

And history has shown that he did not fail.  That, in fact, he was a great leader.

On the other hand, Hitler,  exemplified the opposite side of the coin – irresponsibility.  He persistently blamed the failure of his military plans upon the incompetence of his subordinates or their lack of will-power, while taking for himself the credit of the early successes.  When the roof fell in, Hitler castigated the German people for letting him down.  He could neither see nor face his ultimate responsibility as leader.

As reiterated in the Harvard Business Review :“In hard times, the soft stuff often goes away.  But emotional intelligence, it turns out isn’t so soft.  If emotional obliviousness jeopardizes your ability to perform,  or to be compassionate in a crisis, no amount of attention to the bottom line will protect your career.  Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury you can dispense within tough times.  It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is the key to professional success”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has demonstrated real leadership at this time.  He locked-down the country before most people anticipated he would.  He has shown consistent compassion by visiting the South Africans, who returned to South African from China and were quarantined in Limpopo.  He has talked to his people in an open and honest way, demonstrating his compassion and empathy.  As many South Africans have seriously compromised immune systems due to living with HIV and related diseases, the early quarantine was essential.

Turbulent times calls for real leadership, leadership that is heart-centred and puts people at the centre of everything that you do.  Responding to disruptive change must ensure a human-centred approach to the challenges of this pandemic. Responsive and responsible leadership is called for now.  This is a time more than ever, when human values take centre-stage, values that cannot and should not be weighted only in financial terms.

 Gail Cameron is the MD of the IE Group and My Pocket Coach

Tips for Successful Online Coaching & Meetings

Due to the national lockdown we have been forced to move our coaching and meetings online. We know this is unfamiliar territory and many are anxious to use online platforms such as Zoom & Skype. This is why we have put together a guide on how to run a successful coaching or meeting session online. This guide will provide you with all the steps to run a successful digital meeting and includes essentials such as how to prepare, finding the right location, how to dress, having the correct body language, proper punctuality and how to keep engaged!

Download our free guide by completing the form below, and remember you’ve got this!


Coaching and African Leadership Podcast with Gail Cameron

Petro du Pisani talks to Gail Cameron (MD of the Image Excellence Group) on how executive and life coaching has evolved over the past 30 years. They discuss excerpts from Gail’s book “Authentic African Leadership,” and touch on topics such as Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Resonant Leadership and the Quantum Physics of Leadership

Listen to the podcast here:

Join Our Mindfulness Talk

In our hour-long mindfulness talk, we will explore the conscious awareness of oneself. Watch our video to understand more:

Instilling Hope – the Sine Qua Non of Leadership

2017 has been a challenging year.  Apart from the obvious political instability and economic turmoil, Bloomberg rating SA as the second most stressed country in the world made a lot of sense to many of us this year.  But now is the time for leaders to instil hope.  We should never forget that it is, in the absence of hope that people die – beautifully illustrated by Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist interned in the concentration camps during World War II.   In his book “Man’s Search For Meaning” Frankl describes how together with his best friend, they had survived the most terrible atrocities when his best friend said “The Allies will break into this camp on 30 March”  Although he had the year right, he had the date wrong.  On the 29th March, his friend became delirious, on the 30 March, he lapsed into a coma and on the 31 March, he died.  Frankl said  – Although it may have appeared that he had died of typhus, he said, I know he died, because he had lost hope.”

So too, is this a time for leaders to instil hope.   The world is not broken.  We live in the era of the ascendancy of people-oriented leadership.  The winds of change have already begun blowing up north in Zimbabwe, so too, will the pendulum, inevitably swing back for South Africa.  More than ever, hope is the sine qua non – an indispensable condition of leadership.

Now is the time to reflect on effective ways in which to judge great leadership.  I am reminded of the words of Professor John Adair, the world’s first professor of leadership studies who said “We judge great leadership by three achievements:

  • “Did they achieve the common task?”
  • “Were they able to create harmony in their team?
  • Were they able to meet individual requirements?”

If we explore the legacy of Nelson Mandela – we know he negotiated this country out of a revolution, he enabled our first democratic elections and the implementation of one of the most progressive constitutions in the world – he very much achieved his common task.  He created harmony in his team by encouraging the friendship that evolved between Roelf Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa who negotiated our constitution and met individual requirements by bringing polarised elements of society together.

Now is the time to remember him, now is the time to look at his leadership impact and legacy and now is the time to instil hope for all.


Gail has 30 years of experience as an executive coach and is the founder of The Image Excellence Group – a 24 year old coaching company in Johannesburg – one of South Africa’s foremost leadership coaching businesses with a proven track record of mentoring and developing leaders in commerce, industry, sport, politics and the public sector.  A Fellow of Trinity College London, Gail’s proven consummate skill has enabled her clients to lead with confidence globally. 


Gail published her latest book Authentic African Leadership in November 2013.  Gail says ‘We’ve dedicated ourselves to improving the quality of leadership in modern South Africa. As we’ve done so, it’s become apparent to us that one of the biggest challenges facing these leaders is how to create an impactful personal presence that is aligned with company culture that truly releases the potential of management and staff”


Consciousness Coaching

Consciousness Coaching is an advanced methodology of coaching that elevates consciousness, connects to inner wisdom to create the desired, meaningful change.  Within you lie all the answers to every question you will ask in this entire life.

Consciousness coaching connects to this deeper wisdom to live your greatest desire.

The IE Group has been involved in consciousness coaching for more than 10 years.  Modules include The Quantum Physics of Success, Shifting Negative beliefs, Mind Calm, Mindfulness and Self-Awareness coaching.


Address: 159 Oak Avenue, Randburg, Ferndale, 2160
Telephone: +27 11 781 1444
Fax: +27 11 781 1446

The Brand Inside


…in Johannesburg, to be precise.

This signals the second stage of our plan to deliver the benefits of Alignment to businesses across the African Continent. The first was to establish a strong client portfolio in East Africa, which has taken three short years.

Talking of this South Africa market entry, our Africa Partner Chris Harrison (based in Nairobi) notes: ‘Commercial success in Africa requires a business to demonstrate its capabilities in East, West and South Africa. The key hubs are Nairobi, Johannesburg and Lagos. From there more than 20 subsidiary markets can be addressed’.

We’ve spent considerable time analysing the opportunities in South Africa and selecting the right partner for success.

This partner is The Image Excellence Group. Founded by Gail Cameron 24 years ago, they are one of South Africa’s foremost leadership coaching businesses, with a proven track record of mentoring and developing leaders in commerce, industry, sport, politics and the public sector.

Gail says ‘We’ve dedicated ourselves to improving the quality of leadership in modern South Africa. As we’ve done so, it’s become apparent to us that one of the biggest challenges facing these leaders is how to create a company culture that truly releases the potential of management and staff. There is a tremendously good cultural fit between ourselves and The Brand Inside. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits of our partnership to some of South Africa’s leading organisations’.

Between us, we’re beginning work immediately on two major enterprises in the market. Coaching the South African operations of French logistics giant Bolloré Logistics to implement the requirements of a global Digital Transformation Programme. And helping the Pan-African Online Payments Provider Direct Pay Online to align the corporate cultures of three recently acquired enterprises – Paygate in Cape Town, and Setcom and Virtual Card Services in Johannesburg.

“There’ll be no better way for us to demonstrate our value to South African business than by helping these major companies to repurpose themselves for the future’’ concludes Chris.

Mindfulness Talk

As human knowledge is doubling every 13 months, this explosion of information brings challenges and obstacles of its own for everyone on a daily basis.   With the latest technology and global trends, business never stops and we have become connected and defined by what we do in a 24-7-365 day cycle. This influences our ability to concentrate, be decisive, act assertively, perceive objectively and manage time and stress effectively. Ambiguity and uncertainty can undermine our performance and no amount of technical expertise will save the bottom line. The fast-paced, stressful, deadline-driven world can be detrimental for individuals, relationships, and organisations.

The technique that is proving more and more to overcome these challenges and cope with this fast-paced information overload is Mindfulness – an essential part of conscious leadership and one of the most “Googled” words in the world today.

In this hour-long talk we will explore:

  • Define the information explosion
  • Create an awareness of what mindfulness is and why more and more people are looking for purpose and meaning in their lives.
  • Connect with our own conscious awareness to access a deeper wisdom
  • Be provided with practical solutions to define and understand our mindfulness
  • Connect with the power of now


Our Speaker, Gail Cameron is the Founder and Managing Director of the Image Excellence Group and the author of Voice Excellence and Authentic African Leadership.  Her third book “From Misery to Mindfulness is due for publication next year.  With more than 25 years’ experience as an executive coach, she has spoken at the International Association of Business Conferences in Toronto, New York and San Francisco and received the acclaimed All Star designation from the IABC.    Her programmes are offered globally.


Mandela Month- July 2017

Inspirational Talk by Gail Cameron on Authentic African Leadership – A look at Nelson Mandela

As part of our annual pledge to 67 minutes, the IE Group offers the opportunity for Gail Cameron to do this inspirational talk for you and your team- at no charge.

Following a 20 year period of working with, researching and assisting top leaders in Africa to achieve their potential, comes a 256 page book on the topic, condensed to a 20 minute inspirational talk, an intimate look, at one of the world’s most iconic leaders, Nelson Mandela.

Gail Cameron, presented this Ted style talk at the International Association of Business Communicator’s conference in Toronto where she garnered much praise from the international audience who attended the conference.

“This was the most inspirational talk at the conference.  Thank you for your wisdom and storytelling” Fiona Callison – Toronto

“I thought Gail was fantastic.  I’m all over what she talked about and have been thinking about her presentation ever since” Jim Morrison – Edmonton Canada

“I’ve never enjoyed a presentation as much as this in my life – thank you Gail for inspiring me” Harold Joyce – Edmonton Canada

So, if you are wanting to inspire your team about Authentic African leadership, with a particular focus on Nelson Mandela, his leadership style and the importance of Emotional Intelligence, contact:

Kiley LoioI I 011 781 1444

Abridged Business Biography of Gail Cameron:

Gail Cameron is the Founder and Managing Director of the Image Excellence Group with more than twenty five year’s experience as a leadership coach.

A Fellow of Trinity College London, her book Voice Excellence was published in 1994. Gail also appears in the book ‘Inspirational Women’ as well as being a Finalist in South Africa’s Most influential Women In Business and Government for 2008, 2014, 2015 and was a finalist in the Education and Training Sector in 2016.  An internationally acclaimed speaker, Gail has addressed the IABC’s conference in New York in 2008 on Authentic African Leadership and in San Francisco the following year on The Impact of EQ in Business. In 2010 Gail addressed business leaders at the international conference in Toronto on “The Quantum Physics of Leadership Success”, where she was rated 6th out of 67 speakers.   In June 2014 Gail, addressed the international conference on Nelson Mandela’s leadership impact and was awarded the prestigious All Star Speaker designation from the IABC.

Her second book Authentic African Leadership was published in November 2013.

Gail consults locally and internationally to leaders in the corporate, sport and political spectrum.