Updated: Jan 10
Well, 2020 was certainly one for the books, n'est-ce pas? We went from getting "2020 Vision" to watching a pandemic engulf the world and cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone. We experienced racial and social unrest, the most contentious presidential election I have experienced in my lifetime, financial uncertainty and learned a new way of working and being together -- at home.
At the beginning of 2020, I was planning for the expansion of my coaching practice: I contracted with another coach to take on some of the group coaching programs while I focused on organizations, was planning a BOLD Mover Awards Dinner in May, and the BOLD Move Event in November. Then March 11th happened. You were there, so I don't have to tell you about the cities, schools and restaurants that were shut down, or describe what it was like to work from home, (or still must go out to work) while your children shared a kitchen table doing "school from home." We learned of neighbors who lost jobs and strangers who found ways to creatively feed the less fortunate. We saw increased support for small businesses and neighborhood restaurants. We learned that we could be resilient.
In a year that for many was fraught with anxiety, uncertainty, and a sense of hopelessness, YOU ARE STILL HERE. Consider what you started with in 2020 and count what you have gained. What did you learn? How will you apply what you learned? Here are some things I suspect you have learned:
You learned where the weak spots were in your business and/or family. Prior to the shutdowns it was business as usual both at home and work. You may have found yourself on a relational treadmill, or "dialing it in" at work. You were not prepared for the change that was coming -- none of us were. When you needed to live with everyone 24/7, the tension and need to run away let you know there was work to be done at home. Creating new ways to work with family present meant you could not have a work life and a home life -- they melded in ways that were not always so ...ahem. nice.
You learned creative approaches to doing business (how to pivot) If your business was anything like mine, you had to quickly adjust. The banquet scheduled for May was canceled and the venue returned my deposit, stating that it was not my fault the city was shut down (If they survive this, I will likely have all my banquets there because they showed honor and integrity). I then had to address the canceled coaching sessions -- people were afraid to spend money and as a coach I had to honor that. I offered some lower priced, weeklong sessions on goal setting, and free coaching in May. By August I had an additional corporate client that allowed me to breathe if I avoided extravagances.
You learned how strong your network is. Ah networks -- they are everywhere. In a worldwide pandemic, though, you discover which ones are worthwhile and which ones are time wasters. Yes, the wrong network is a time waster. You spend a lot of time sharing business cards, posts and websites, but referrals and new business are absent. Meanwhile the network administrator gets bragging rights about how large and effective the network is. I will keep saying it: all relationships, including business relationships, should be mutually beneficial. If you see no personal or financial gain to a network, my unsolicited advice is to kick it to the curb. I did that with quite a few networks last year. I think I am almost done paring down the list.
You learned how strong you are. It is 2021, and though last year was probably harder than you imagined it could be, you are surviving in a worldwide pandemic. You have developed some new ways of relating to your family and loved ones. If you are like us, you have made some improvements that make home a nicer place to be. You learned how to navigate ZOOM meetings! You have found and are finding ways to be productive at home-work. You realize that despite how tough 2020 was, you survived. Here is a challenge to consider: Knowing what you know now, how can you thrive and create even greater ways of relating to your life, your work and those you love? That should keep you busy for awhile.
Michele Aikens is CEO & Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching.