“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” – Cavett Robert
Very few people would classify the year 2020 as “good”. Constant chaos is a challenge, and lot of our chaos this year has been the result of things that are unpleasant and cause human beings to suffer. Between a global pandemic, a lack of social justice, horrifying acts of nature, and – at least in my country – an election campaign, it’s been one stressful and disturbing thing after another.
I may sound like a broken record, but even though rough things have happened, though, that doesn’t mean we can’t find some kind of positive in all that noise. In fact, we have a need to make something positive out of it, if for no other reason than that if we don’t, it just makes us feel hopeless and exhausted.
One positive thing that is available to us as leaders this year is knowledge. More specifically, it’s the knowledge that you gain from observing how others act and respond to stressful situations, and from dealing with those stressful situations yourself. A colleague of mine this year said you could get ten years’ worth of education in 2020 if you just paid attention.
So, if you’re not already, start paying attention. What have you learned about your customers over the past six or seven months? Who are they really, and what do they value? What have you learned about doing business with them that you can build on in the future? What do you need to adjust or stop doing altogether?
What have you learned about your people? Which ones rise to the occasion when things are tough and which ones wilt? Who is able to stay focused and stay engaged, and who struggles to stay on track? Who morphs into an angry, short-tempered culture destroyer and who manages, in spite of everything that’s going on, to treat people with respect and dignity?
Most importantly, what have you learned about yourself? Have you made decisions differently over the past months? Why? Have you been able to manage your mental health? How has your outlook on the future changed? Or has it? What has changed about what you expect from yourself?
Stressful situations are not necessarily positive things, but we can make positive things out of them. Make sure that in all the crazy that is 2020 that you’re learning and growing, even if (or especially if) it’s uncomfortable. Don’t let the year be a waste.