2020 — what a year its been! Aspirations, dreams and supposed certainty quickly gave gave to the exasperation of lockdowns, the shock of hearing of the sudden death of people who seemed pretty okay and the uncertainty of not just the economy but life itself .
“New normal”, “unprecedented”, “social distancing”, “zoom”, “vaccine”, etc. have become part of our regular vocabulary. As the clock turned 12am on the 1st of January 2020 we wished one and all a Happy New Year and hoped that good tidings would accompany us. So, was there any good in this year? The answer is yes if you choose to carefully look. Personally, the year has provided me a great deal of learning. I believe that adversity redefines our perspectives, breaks mindsets and challenges paradigms. Allow me to share my takeaways from this year which I take into the year ahead:
1. Never take anything or anybody for granted
We often realize the worth or value of a blessing only when it is gone. Whether it is a relationship or an opportunity or an ability — most things wont remain forever. Learn to cherish what you have when you have it rather than brood over it when it is gone. Value what you have and never allow familiarity to blind you of its worth.
2. Relationships are life’s premium asset
The intent of the lockdown was rightly to keep us physically safe but it left many emotionally drained. The intangible benefits of community and the need for face-to-face fellowship was amplified. While I certainly hope 2021 allows us to get back to meeting, gathering and connecting as in pre-Covid times; if that isn’t the case, it is critical to be relationally and not just virtually connected. Do what it takes and what is possible to invest in relationships. I’m not talking about networking but specifically about building and maintaining meaningful relationships.
3. Remove the blur between needs and wants
There so many things that I didn’t use during the lockdown which I thought were vital prior to the lockdown. I barely drove my dream come true GLC 220D Merc for over nine months. The branded suits stay stacked in the cupboard. The visiting cards which carried my important sounding title lie unused. The expensive leather business bag with which I intended to create a first impression with my clients lies in the corner. These are just a few to name. In hindsight, I did get by pretty well without these “ego inflating” accessories. I realized what I really needed was good health, family to love, work to engage with, skills to add value, nourishing food and steady WIFI. The moral of the story is that happiness and contentment comes from the need list rather than the never-ending and somewhat-illusionary want list.
4. Gratefulness is the antidote to gloominess
Whatever could have gone wrong did go wrong that’s the kind of year 2020 has been. I remember, as a kid, trying to solve a “find what all is wrong in this picture” kind of puzzle. I would end up on an average identifying eighty percent of the errors after sweating over the puzzle. But 2020 made it very easy to identify all that was wrong with it, didn’t it? Be it over-crowding hospitals, the economy on the verge of a breakdown, travel bans, job losses, education on the line not just online… the list can go on and on. Commenting on and criticizing what’s wrong isn’t going to make things right. Instead choosing to find positives even if there only a few and being grateful for the same serves to dispel the inner darkness and despondency. Gratefulness is not just a nice sounding cliché but medication to the human spirit. Gratefulness doesn’t come naturally, it is a choice and if you look carefully enough you will find something to be grateful for.
5. Be adaptable and a continuous learner
Necessity isn’t just the mother of all inventions. It is also the father of self improvement. My trade requires me to facilitate workshops and interventions in person. With a lockdown in place there was no certainty of when such opportunities would open up and understandably so. You can do meetings on an online platform but can you actually conduct a three to six hour workshop? The answer was it had not been done before but the fact is that it needed to be done now. So working on aspects of ticking the boxes of participant engagement, delivering experiential learning and minimizing online participant fatigue; we had to adapt, learn and improve before we were able to receive good feedback and deliver results. Learning is a continuous process and different situations provide reasons and provoke you to learn. Your response to these stimulus to learn often differentiates between survival and success Interestingly the more you learn, the more opportunities open up.
So, these are my life lessons that 2020 has taught me and I am truly grateful for them.
The year has indeed been tough but like a wise man once said “A diamond earns its sparkle from the pressure it endures.”
Here’s wishing that you sparkle in 2021!