On Saturday Mrs Bell and I were invited to a rehearsal for a modern dance examination. Our dear friends' daughter (Emma) was preparing herself in a kind of "mock exam".
She performed in front of an audience to put herself in the best position to be successful later in the week.
Given that our daughter danced for a number of years, the situation was not entirely foreign - but it was a long way from the usual Saturday fare and happily so.
However, it is safe to say that we were incredibly impressed by the expertise and skill on display – it was amazing. There were some incredibly technical dances, high-exertion choreography and, I have to say, I was exhausted after Emma had completed her warm-ups.
What we did not see is the hours of rehearsal, effort, pain and dedication over a significant number of years that brought Emma to the point that she could dance as well as, if not better, than seasoned professionals.
Sure, there is the gift of talent, which she has in spades, but the graft and sacrifice is what really enabled her to produce an amazing display on Saturday.
It's fine for mere observers like me to draw their own conclusions based on what they see in front of them, but too often we fall into a trap of only judging the result and not the hard work that precedes it.
Likewise, we can make flawed assumptions in the "now" based on our biases and also what we "think" we know (unfortunately this type of judgment doesn't involve much cognitive processing – it's quick and convenient but also lazy).
And so it is with our business community in the time of Covid-19, and my concern is that there is a rush to judgment that might not understand the full picture of effort and risk.
Sure, there are a number of businesses (such as those which were already of significant scale at the start of the year) that are doing fine. But there are others, notably smaller ones that are working feverishly just to stay afloat – particularly smaller businesses and those most directly impacted by closed borders or border failures.
A friend in a larger centre told me yesterday that he has called in the liquidators, on account of the market turning against their business after two lockdowns.
Like being in a ring with Israel Adesanya, the first lockdown was a solid gut punch but the second was a roundhouse which was a knockout blow. This is a business that supposedly would have benefited from "shovel ready" projects, but it appears this was not the reality.
For some businesses, lockdowns have had the impact of putting holes in the dancefloor, making it hard for them to move forward with certainty.
And no matter how much effort and skill are applied, unfortunately, some businesses (particularly SMEs) are at risk of falling through completely.
So, at least in this column, December is going to be a salute to small to medium businesses and, hopefully even in a small way, we can highlight the effort and skill that local owners bring to the "dancefloor" every day.
It is best for everyone locally and nationally that as many businesses as possible pass this exam with flying colours.