It is the New Year… Now What?

It is the New Year… Now What?

Here we are at the end of an extraordinary year in our lives and the beginning of a New Year. What have we learned from it all? At this point I think all of us are uncertain about the future and what comes next.  Two topics of conversation I had during the past six months with multiple clients, colleagues, and family members are the need to embrace change to survive, and how to thrive during the extreme levels of stress that are part of this global health crisis.

In a normal New Year just like many of you, I try to count my blessings. I look for ways to help others in my community and recommit to “practice of gratefulness” in my life.  It’s time now for all of us to think about what you learned during 2020, and how can you make sure the year 2021 is a bridge to what may be a better future for all of us.  In recent articles written by two presidents at higher education institutions, Dr. Mary Dana Hilton at Hollins University and Dr. David Johns at Ferrum College, they each summarized what they learned at their institutions during the crisis.  Their thoughts and lessons learned included:

  • It is important to learn to live with what is unknown and cannot be controlled
  • We are stronger than we think
  • It turns out we need very little to survive
  • We can live, work, and learn at a distance
  • Friends and family are really what matters most
  • As a leader you do not have all of the answers, but if you draw on the intellectual power of the group, you will find the answers
  • Authentic communication remains a key to problem solving

As we begin our own year-end review and New Year goal setting, what were some of the moments you will draw on as the world changed so dramatically?  Did you ever think you would see the following?

  • Our government and community leaders urge us to stay home and not go to work
  • An illness and a level of fear and confusion that has already taken over 300,000 Americans away from our midst in less than a year
  • Our schools and businesses would need to be closed and then reopen with dramatic changes in the way they teach students and deliver to customers
  • The U.S. economy could implode in a few months as people lost their jobs and savings as well as their self-identity and self-esteem that are impacted by work
  • How we gather together as family and communities would be changed dramatically to include closures, social distancing, and masks
  • Our whole country’s culture including our values, actions, and our history would need to be reexamined as cultural biases and lack of humanity to others was revealed in riots, protests, racism’s inhumane actions against others, and as the pursuit of ego centered political and financial power became a goal for some.

We can learn and must make meaning of what we have seen and experienced.  As educators we discuss, share powerful stories, and mentor others so that our students can fulfill their own dreams to become productive citizens.  This is how we can help move our society, culture, and world forward.  I suggest that we know what works and we can recommit to these ideas as they will ensure our country embraces every person.  For our democracy to succeed all of us must have the chance to fully participate so we maximize our dreams at home, school, work and in the community

Below are some of my ideas and commitments for the New Year. What are yours?

  • Recommit and strive for clear communication in all settings by being focused on listening, respect, and civility
  • Use the lens of history to work toward an unbiased look at the past and better understand other perspectives when we discuss current issues
  • Provide all of my clients and students with real life work related assignments to illuminate career and work concepts and make sure their experiences are always followed with multiple options for feedback and reflection with the teacher or mentor
  • Offer more opportunities to experience diversity in my teaching and coaching by being intentional that this happens in all my individual and group conversations
  • Always include a discussion of values in my coaching and teaching as our values impact our work, community, and personal life decisions

You are invited to share your ideas of how to move forward from 2020 into a better 2021?

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