I’m still processing what 2020 was and wasn’t. I’ve read a lot of descriptions of the year, ‘exhausting’, ‘chaotic’ and, ‘surreal’ are common words used to describe 2020. Some even try to put a positive spin on it. This feels trite. Being positive is important, as is facing the difficulty and struggle and naming the reality of our experience. It can be a challenge to hold both.
No doubt, this year was hard. And in doing my own reflection of the year over the last few days I’m reminded of the achievements, the silver linings as much as the devastation, disappointment and disillusionment. Each of us have different experiences and levels of hardship and ways of coping.
Many of us have a gratitude practice to help us get through hard times, this certainly was the year for drawing on the perspective being grateful can bring.
One thing I’m grateful for is that I wasn’t one of the twenty-eight thousand Australians who got COVID-19 but there isn’t a person on the planet that wasn’t impacted by the global pandemic in some way. As I write we’re nearly up to 2 million cases globally, we are all horrified to witness what’s happening around the world. I feel grateful to live in a state where our leadership listens to science and respects the recommendations of the Cheif Health Officer.
In the state of Victoria, at the peak, we had 725 new cases in a 24 hr period. With a population of 6 million, we had around 20,400 cases and 820 deaths. The lockdown that followed was strict, described as draconian, even authoritarian. In this case, I don’t think power was abused. Difficult decisions were made that meant we suffered to avoid and prevent worse suffering.
The pushback and criticism were ample and often warranted. But what came of that difficulty and suffering was something we couldn’t imagine. Zero new cases. Not just a few days, but weeks and in total 61 days before any new cases were detected among the thousands of tests taken each day.
We had a sense of collective achievement and relative security until someone brought the virus back from Sydney and didn’t wait for test results before going out. We knew it would be short-lived and unsustainable when the borders opened up.
We all hoped that 2021 would be better. And it may be, but there are many hurdles ahead, a ton of factors that make for a very complex set of challenges and no certainty that things will improve:
- New more contagious strains
- Quickly assembled vaccine with slow rollouts.
- A significantly fractured society that struggles to comprehend what we’re dealing with, doesn’t trust the institutions to make the right decisions, criticises them regardless of the outcome.
- An internet rife with misinformation and social media that struggle to address it effectively.
The cracks in our institutions are becoming more painful every day.
Mask wearing has become politicized and misappropriated to freedom of expression. We are getting a global lesson on public health and a stark look in the face of the distinction between individualism and collectivism.
For years we have been hearing alarm bells being rung by scientists and activists about the impact humans are living on this planet. 2020 showed us just how bad it is with catastrophic fires putting marsupials at risk of extinction and a global pandemic with no end in sight. Was this preventable? Is the current global infection rate something that could have been prevented? What will 2021 bring? Will we learn from the hindsight of 2020?
One of the ways this time in human history is described is as a transition from adolescence to adulthood. Learning from the mistakes of the past will help us move more decisively toward adulthood. This can seem daunting but it happens when we make decisions that balance individualism and collectivism with the possibility of a different future in mind.
My favourite Margaret Meade quote comes to mind:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
This highlights the value of coming together to focus on what’s important to us. And of the inspiration that can come from group wisdom when there is an intention to positively impact the future. This is what my work is all about.
I will be sharing more insights, inspiration and wisdom on the Future of Leadership page. Plus ways to make the most of the Hindsight of 2020 with repurposing values, vision. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about goal setting as a way to face the highs and lows of what lies ahead. We don’t know if 2021 will be better or worse than last year, with some direction and something to work towards that is in the realm of what we can control can help us face whatever 2021 throws at us. Let’s to this.