Lets face it, there’s still time for this year to take a nosedive, we’ve still got a whole month left, but I’ve hedged my bets and put together a list of the lessons 2020 gifted us. Obviously when I say gift, it’s the socks from grandma or lump of coal in the stocking equivalent of a gift rather than a shiny Tesla or expensive watch kind of gift. They say that the lesson will just keep showing up until you get it. 2020 has been the rollercoaster you never wanted to ride so I could probably keep going for days listing all the lessons learnt from this year. There are as many lessons as there are toilet rolls in my understairs cupboard but for brevity I’ve kept this blog to ten.
I’ve avoided the obvious like ‘You’re only ever 6 weeks away from your natural hair colour” and “Always make sure you’ve muted yourself on the weekly team zoom before you pass comment to your flatmate on how messy Sandra’s house is”, but these should be food for thought nevertheless.
Here are my top 10 to get you thinking about what learnings you want to take with you into 2021.
1. Sh!t Happens
This is just part of life. I was talking to a friend about how much drama there was this year and she quite rightly pointed out “life IS drama”. None of us could have ever predicted what happened this year or the massive ripple effect that it would have. No-one could have imagined the realities that we have had to endure. The more we can develop our flexibility, agility and resilience the better position we will be in if and when future crises happen. Hard times pull people together but unfortunately you can’t create that level of unity without first having to experience a crisis. The same goes for resilience. Resilience is built during struggle, not before it. Anyone singing “Always look on the Bright Side of Life” yet? You are now.
2. Culture matters
Trust is everything. It has been interesting to watch how some organisations were able to trust their teams to be productive (and some showed they were more productive) to work flexibly and with little input from others. Others went back to dickensian ways of managing and measuring people which led to disengagement. Some chose presenteeism, others chose productivity. Guess which ones were nicer places to work and did better during the pandemic? Your team are human beings, never before have we been expected to work full time, be childminders, and home educators all at the same time. It would have been easier to teach my old dog new tricks than it was to teach my children mathematics. We are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Your culture matters.
3. Connection beats connectivity
Never mind getting the latest software, webcams and backdrops to your Zoom meetings. Let’s focus on the quality of the connection and I don’t mean the wifi connection. Zoom fatigue is real. Meetings without purpose are as pointless remotely as they are in person but without the added bonus of free coffee and biscuits.
4. Communication is not just the key, it’s the whole door!
If you don’t know the answer, then tell them you don’t know. In the void of communication people will make up what they don’t know. Recognise that everyone is craving certainty. As vulnerable as it may feel, just fessing up to what you don’t know will be a weird kind of certainty in itself. And best of all it’s authentic. Your team doesn’t want the corporate, sugar coated BS. They want honesty, trust and respect. Be honest, your team will appreciate it even if they don’t tell you.
5. You are Resourceful
You have more than you need. Toilet roll and pasta say no more. This crisis has forced us to be resourceful in so many ways. From making a meal from your store cupboard because the shelves in the local coop were bare to supercharging the ever so boring obligatory family zoom quiz. You thought you weren’t creative – well now you know you are because you literally made a silk purse from a sow’s ear and got through this. You might even have enjoyed the meal and had fun at the quiz along the way. How can you apply your recently revived creativity?
6. Kindness Counts
‘We’re not all in the same boat, we’re all different boats in the same storm” The quote that went viral. I am lucky and would consider myself to be in a pretty well equipped boat with a reliable crew. Self compassion is vital if you are to survive the storm. Pay attention to your own needs, You need to serve those before you can serve others.
7. Show up and serve
Heard of “helpers high”? Human beings have a few basic requirements for good mental health, to be loved, to have something to look forward to and to have something to do. Meaning and purpose can do wonders for your mindset and your emotional wellbeing. When you turn your focus and energy to serving others, whether that is your customers, your team or your next door neighbour it gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. This keeps us afloat as well as others. Next time you are struggling with the heaviness of life get out of your own head and do something for someone else. It’s powerful medicine.
8. Time will pass anyway
Seize the moment. “How can you make yourself better during this lockdown?” screamed at us through social media almost like an accusation or a challenge rather than a suggestion or an invitation. There was a lot of pressure to learn Mandarin, craft with the children, knit a jumper using hair from your own cat or become the best banana bread maker in your street. I am not suggesting you bend to unrealistic or unhelpful expectations, but by channelling your energy with intention you can create a very different outcome or set of results. The time will pass anyway and you always have a choice about how you use that time. If you want to make a jumper using cat hair crack on, but only if it makes you feel good. You are responsible for what you do with the time that you have.
9. Being vs Doing
It is just as important to “be” as it is to “do”. You need to check in with yourself and do what feels good and right for you. Resting is not laziness. Rest is essential. Without recharging, replenishing and recovering there is no doing. If you feel better taking the dog for an hour walk, do it. If you need to lay on the sofa and binge watch Schitt’s Creek for 5 hours, do that. After all, we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.
10.It takes courage to keep facing the unknown
Probably one of the most difficult parts of this experience for everyone close to me whether friends, family or clients was the uncertainty. The actual uncertainty and reading the word uncertainty ten billion times on social media. Yes we know there’s a pandemic, thank you Pam. With no end point and change at a rapid pace, it’s been exhausting to keep showing up without a playbook. This is probably one of the most powerful lessons I have learnt personally. It takes courage and energy to keep going. Especially when you don’t know where you’re going or where the finish line is.
When the whole world is upside down and back to front it can be hard to know which way is up. You think you’re doing the right thing but because you’re in uncharted territory so you’re never that sure. Every decision is calculated risk. The mental load is huge. 1:2:1 coaching can help you sort through your own stresses and worries. At the level you’re working at I know you aren’t looking for permission but you could benefit from a sounding board. I provide a safe place for you to process all your own stuff. I will ‘hold the space’ for you to take a breather, refuel and restore so that you can go on and be the leader you know you can be.
Book a call today here to have a chat about how I can best support you going into 2021!
Long time no speak!! I read your emails regularly but I never usually comment.. My favourite of your tips: 1: Connection vs Connectivity. We have all become more adept at using technology in 2020 but we must remember that its the human connection that is important. The way to avoid Zoom fatigue is to take time on Zoom meetings to ‘connect’ with people. Its not just about the ‘task’, its also about the people. 2: Being vs Doing: I have a US-based client who calls the doing ‘active, no action’. This means that you are busy doing stuff that is not meaningful or useful enough. I like your ‘human being’ example too. Anyway, Happy Christmas to you and yours. It would be great to catch up in the New Year. All the best, Peter
Thanks for taking the time to read them and for “connecting”. Wishing you a happy and safe Christmas and new year! Jo x
Hey Jo I wanted to say thank you for your emails. I love the way you write they are one of the few I actually make time to read. Happy Christmas to you and your family and a the best for 2021 ????xx
Thats so lovely to hear that they resonate with you. More to come in 2021! Happy Christmas to you too and Happy new year. Jo x