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2020s Hard Truths

Twenty-twenty hasn’t turned out like any of us expected, but we should have seen that coming when Tiger King was released.  For some people, things got easier as society was forced to slow down and rethink old paradigms. For the vast majority of us, times have been tough—financially, mentally, and physically.

This year has been a forcing function in many ways.  We were forced to choose between normalcy and safety, forced to adapt to a new way of living, and forced to grow in ways that haven’t even shown themselves yet.

This year revealed very quickly which among us had worked on our resiliency.  It was pretty clear who had strategies in place to bear the heavy burden of uncertainty and who was floating along assuming nothing bad could ever happen in their world.  If you couldn’t read the panic on people’s faces all you had to do was take one look in their bathroom closet.  If there were more than 10 packages of toilet paper in there…they didn’t prepare.

But that’s not all 2020 has taught us, there have been many lessons.  Here are my top 10.

  1. You don’t have time.  How long until the next pandemic or natural disaster?  We have no clue, and that means we need to be ready NOW.  No more putting off whatever it is you keep telling yourself you’ll do tomorrow.
  2. When time is of the essence, the most valuable thing you can find is a coach or mentor.  Inventing the wheel the first time was really hard.  But once you’ve seen it, you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that and begin carving your own.  Coaches save time because they reduce or erase the cost of trying to figure out what to do.
  3. This year made it more clear than ever that knowing how to channel your emotions into constructive solutions is the most important skill we can develop as human beings.  Sometimes you have to figure things out on your own because the problem is new for everyone.  Focusing on solutions—and not problems—is the hallmark of someone who’s going to come out better on the other side.
  4. Stay (or get) fit.  I know, I know, of course I say this; I own a gym.  But if there’s one thing COVID highlighted, it’s that fitness is your best possible hedge against sickness.  Being fit adds a buffer and buys you time.  You’ll be less likely to get sick, and even if you do, recovery time will be significantly improved, COVID or otherwise.
  5. Stillness is the key.  In a high-stress environment, where things are coming at you from every angle, you need to find time daily to be with yourself in silence.  Meditate, do breathwork, visualize the future; take a moment to check in with yourself and the universe.
  6. Continuing education is worth 10 times what you pay for it.  Signing up for a course, class, or seminar to learn something new is usually a good idea.  
  7. Make time for personal development.  When COVID hit, we all found ourselves with some ‘extra time’.  I made the commitment to use that time on personal development instead of wasting it on Netflix.  And what do you know? The more work I do on myself, the more value I’m able to bring to the world—and the more I’m rewarded for it!
  8. Communication is everything.  When stress levels are high, communication becomes more difficult and things get lost in translation.  Paint a crystal clear vision of where you’re headed and people will follow you.
  9. You are only as strong as the people around you.  You are the average of the five people you hang out with most.  Did those people lift you up or pull you down this year?
  10. Forgiveness is important. People act out of character when they’re under stress. They say things they’d never say in normal times. This year required a lot, but it required forgiveness most of all. Forgive your family, friends, co-workers—and yourself.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned this year?

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