2020 Retrospective: Resilience – Gratitude

“You don’t miss your water…’til your well runs dry,” goes the song.  What an incredible year: Fire, Pandemic, Riots, Economic Disaster – Where does it all end?  When we get to the end of this year, lots of people will surely be ready for a beer or a glass of wine, maybe two. 

In 2020, many people worldwide were faced with extraordinary circumstances.  If there were two words that have characterized this year, they would be Resilience and Gratitude. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were sequestered, unable to be visited.  And that was when they were healthy.  It was even worse when they got sick.  Imagine what it must have been like to be in an ICU ward, scared, afraid of dying, and alone.

Somehow though, people seemed to pivot, shift themselves, and carry forward, albeit some better than others.  People who could, continued to work – from their living rooms or the spare (or kid’s) bedroom.  Overnight, an entire country found out what they could do with video communication software.  A client of mine is in the food business!  Kiss of death, right?  What did they do when their manufacturing and packaging orders fell off the table?  Hand sanitizer seemed in short supply.  And just like that, because they had a very constructive, nimble culture, they transformed their business model to respond to the needs of the moment.  A consulting company that I work with historically delivered all of its education via live facilitation.  In freefall, they successfully made the transition to an all-virtual presentation format within 60 days.  In addition, they have begun presenting modules that are entirely digital.  In the middle of the pandemic, another client and friend found himself in the ICU with a triple bypass and clots in his lungs and his leg!  Not exactly elective surgery!  This friendly giant of a man faced his own greatest existential threat.  He is on the mend, gaining strength every day and has returned to working virtually.  There are hundreds of these types of stories.  My business relied on face-to-face coaching and consultation.  And while Zoom has worked wonders to present much of the work that I do, I still find that everyone I meet is still hungry for the sense of community from which we have been deprived by this ugly virus.

What did everyone who has moved forward have in common? Grit…resilience.  They bounced back from what could have been a whole series of crushing blows.  They found a way to improvise, adapt, even thrive.  The enterprises that have done this best are, unsurprisingly, those with the most constructive cultures.  They have rallied their people, been as transparent as possible, clear in their expectations, and relentless in terms of preserving their values in the face of unnerving pressures.  They had unshakeable faith in their mission and purpose, staying focused despite the challenges swirling around.  And they believed that even though the solution may not have been immediately apparent, they had the tools and the drive to capitalize on it when it appeared.

Their resilience centered on executing smartly in unusual times.  When lockdowns first occurred, I penned a piece in which I encouraged leaders to zero in on 5 key themes: https://www.l3ps.com/leading-your-army-from-their-living-rooms-5-ideas-for-maintaining-business-sanity-in-todays-world/

  • Maintain a Daily Rhythm
  • Make “Face” as frequently as humanly possible, connecting with team members
  • Ensure Clarity
  • Celebrate Success
  • Build Trust

It should come as no big surprise that these strategies are excellent in reinforcing constructive cultures in less fraught times as well.  The good leaders did this relentlessly.  The dividends are clear to see.

I picked up clients, I lost clients.  Others did as well.  The one thing that was so evident, especially as this “Annus Horribilis” shudders to a close, is how grateful I am for all of the help and comradeship displayed by everyone I interacted with on a daily basis.  The people who persevered in the restaurant industry, pivoting to takeout and “outdoor dining.”  The cheerful patience of everyone as they began to navigate this novel landscape.  Our family, our friends, our good clients and stakeholders.

There are so many people for whom I am grateful.  While the rest will go unnamed, my wife of 34 years, La Vonne, has been present every day in a thousand little ways.  There are naturally others.  Those of you who have taken the time to read my posts, especially those of you who are overseas, I thank you for your interest and the thoughtful input you have provided on the subjects.  It helps me improve and do more for those I work to help.  I thank my clients, not just for my daily bowl of rice, but for the opportunity to help you become the very best leaders and enterprises, purposeful and effective.  It is enormously rewarding to see the good that you do for your communities.  I am thankful for my business partners, who have helped me be effectively present for all of my communities.  I am grateful that the light at the end of the tunnel is not another train coming in the other direction.  Thanks to those relentless innovators who found ways to do things in the kind of time that the experts thought impossible.  Grit…resilience. 

My thanks are for all of the people in the medical community, the person cleaning the halls, the cooks who have prepared meals for everyone, the nurses who have been steadfast in the care that they have provided, and the doctors who have struggled to maintain life and find solutions.

2021 is destined for better.  Pray that we can reduce not only the medical damage but the economic damage as we go forward.  If I can assist you and your enterprise in any way, please feel free to send me a note.  It will be my privilege to help.


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