At the risk of re-stating the obvious, 2020 presented the world with unique challenges. What are your lessons learned?
Last December we all had our Key Assumptions about 2020. We assumed the future would resemble the past. And we based both our business plans and personal plans on these assumptions. By April, most of our assumptions were invalidated. Plans needed to be either postponed or pivoted as we looked for ways to take lemons and make lemonade.
What words would you use to characterize the past year? How would you fill in the blank below?
2020 was ________________.
Here’s some possible choices.
- Mentally Challenging
- a political hoax
- Unprecedented in our lifetime
- An adventure
My 2020 Lemonade
I would describe my year as an adventure. My friends and family have stayed healthy and safe. And I’ve enjoyed a series of positive experiences.
I know I’m in the minority when I share that I’ve had a really great year. I’m aware of my fortuitous status. So I’m compelled to share my recipe for 2020 lemonade:
- One part good luck.
- Some impeccable timing.
- Two parts positive attitude.
Not everyone had all of these ingredients on hand. And, I concede that luck and timing will make a positive attitude more attainable. But I believe that optimism is a common ingredient for all who found enough resiliency to either prosper or at least cope with the year’s challenges.
Thinking about “luck, I’m reminded of the Branch Rickey quote:
“Luck is the residue of design”
Also, if the Law of Attraction played a part. Here’s my 2020 re-view.
Adventures and Opportunities
A European Close Encounter
I spent the last week of January 2020 skiing in Northern Italy. On our return trip, Munich airport officials were stopping all travelers to ask:
“Have you been to China?”
Who knew that in just ten days Italy would became the biggest pandemic hot spot this side of China? I dodged that invisible bullet.
Scenic, but potentially hazardous
Domestic Close Encounters with Covid
In February 2020, I made two business trips to suburban Boston to conduct communication workshops. The second trip coincided with The Biogen Conference in Boston which is now tied to over 300,000 Coronavirus cases. Another invisible bullet dodged.
At the end of February, I jetted off to Vail for more skiing. Ten days after we returned, all of the Colorado ski towns became hot spots with quarantine restrictions. Even the mayor of Vail got infected with Coronavirus. Our group was unaffected and oblivious. While returning to Chicago on March 7, I was the only person in the Denver Airport wearing a mask. Our world changed quickly in the following days.
Shelter In Place
The Illinois Governor’s Executive Order took effect on March 21 While I lost some potential new business, my existing coaching engagements were easily switched over to Zoom meetings. And I’m fortunate to have a really nice work place. Our townhome is located in a Golf Club community. Fine food delivery is only a phone call and 15 minutes away.
2020 Summer in the Suburbs: No Sweat
From April through July our daughter, son-in-law and two year old granddaughter moved in with us to remedy their temporary child care shortage. The sudden addition of a toddler to our one quiet household was challenging. But we made lemonade.
As the weather warmed, restrictions loosened. We enjoyed dinners and drinks on the deck and reservations at the local pool and clubhouse for more food and drink.
Little Molly got to spend quality time to bond with Grandpa. And vice-versa. The Summer of Molly will always be treasured.
Our annual family 4th of July concert excursion was cancelled. So we enjoyed the local fireworks, festivities and food with more family visiting from NYC. Lemonade!
To help with a slight business downturn, my life/work balance shifted with less work and more family time. Plus, there were some financial benefits.
- In July of 2019, I bought stock in Zoom. With the pandemic, it has tripled in value.
- In June, I received a nice, soon-to-be-forgiven PPP loan.
Fall and Winter 2020: More Lemonade
In August, Molly’s Mom and Dad resolved her day care and went back to their home in the city. My wife Holly got a brand new knee. And suddenly, the coaching business improved. Just when I was ready to spend more time “working”.
In September, our son proposed to his girlfriend at a Manhattan restaurant. She said “yes”. I flew to NY for an outdoor celebration. My safe departure and return was closely scrutinized by the New York Department of Health. There were no new infections resulting from the gathering.
As announced here at the time, I was inducted into The Trusted Advisors Hall of Fame in October.
As with most of us, our holiday gatherings were fewer and smaller. We were able to enjoy bringing young Molly to a socially distanced Brunch with Santa. That was as adventurous as we choose to be.
Wintertime Beverage of Choice
My January 2021 ski trip to Switzerland is cancelled. But that’s another lemonade opportunity. I’ve taken up a new winter sport playing Platform Paddle Tennis at the neighborhood’s heated courts. It’s a great workout and socially distanced good times.
Seems that you can and should find ways to make lemonade in any season.
Ignorance is Bliss?
I’ve shared my positive outlook here while reviewing 2020. Am I comfortably numb to the inequity issues that resurfaced this summer? It depends on your perspective. I am a senior, white male, I was a student in the 60s and my educators enhanced my awareness and empathy for these issues in those formative years. It’s sad and embarrassing that racism is still an issue. We shouldn’t ever dismiss aspirations for ending it.
I believe that we all need to find our own recipe for happiness. We all need coping mechanisms in hard times. And we all need to discover our own ways of making the world a better place. I hope that sharing my adventures and successes provides you with food for positive thought.
No matter what kind of year you just experienced…
Here's to a Happier and Healthier 2021
Remember: We all get to choose our attitudes.
Choose optimism and gratitude. Resiliency will follow.