It's time to face up to 2021, but don't push 2020 completely from your mind.
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Dear 2021, I don't want any trouble from you. Just come in, sit in the corner, don't touch anything and keep your mouth shut.
I ended 2020 with a humorous social media graphic that featured the above message. While it was gritty and quite fun, that feeling has an important downside. This downside begs the question, "What have we personally learned from 2020?" I think this question is important to consider. Complaining about the things that went terribly wrong is easy. Finding the positive in difficult situations is not. I believe that finding the gems in life is the best way to progress successfully.
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I learned a lot from 2020. Here are my seven takeaways.
Microdose the News! I learned what I needed to know from messaging apps and not being obsessed with problems by watching the news hour after hour. Negative news is selling, and the media has become the master of negative news exchange (technically there are now as many or more opinions than actual news). One valuable lesson I observed was about a man who told me he could keep his job but that he had to work from home. He also had to look after his children and help them with their schoolwork. The double duty burdened him. During our conversation, he realized that his situation was indeed an opportunity to spend a lot more time with his young children. While this was a challenge, it may be a period of time they look back fondly based on the shared experiences. When he accepted this idea, his view of the situation completely changed. That was a lesson that I hope many others have learned with children. I've seen the focus overcome the fear of many entrepreneurs. When people are frozen in fear, they have no hope. But when fear gives them focus, they not only have hope, they are much more likely to weather the storm. Hope is more powerful than fear. Hope is that little voice inside of you that whispers to you what "can be" when everyone around you screams about "what cannot be". Hope plus a plan plus action will lead you through challenges successfully. I learned that your network will be there for you in difficult times. I saw people who supported each other emotionally and professionally. I've seen people give each other ideas that kept their business alive and successful. Two of the best examples were the furniture upholstery business that turned into a Covid mask manufacturing company and a brewery that turned into a Covid hand sanitizer company. I learned that if you wait until tough times are over, your business is over. In difficult times, you need your network more than ever. Social distancing is the wrong attitude; Physical distancing was crucial. We need to be more social than ever! I've seen successful companies activate their networks and not give up. I've learned that I can travel the world without getting on a plane. I have 2.3 million miles with one airline alone! It was a gift to be able to spend months at home with my wife. It was the longest time we've had together in our 31-year marriage. For that I will be forever grateful. Most recently, I learned that friends are more important than ever. The quality of the people in your life (or in your room as I call it in one of my books) will determine the quality of your life.
For me, that last lesson was profound. It's been a tough year for me and for many people. But I came out of 2020 with a clearer idea of who my friends are and who really cares about me as a person.
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For that I will be forever grateful. So I suggest that you don't write off 2020 entirely and erase the year from your memory banks. Instead, think about what you learned from the past year. What was something positive that you learned or took away from the most challenging year in recent history? Think about this question and write down your observations. I believe this type of reflection will help you see the good that happened during a difficult year.