This past year threw plenty of curveballs at business leaders who had to navigate a pandemic while managing work-from-home transitions, economic decline, social unrest, and increased anxiety among employees.
This tumultuous period made it difficult for many to find solid ground. But as we leap into 2021 and make ourselves comfortable, we can begin to reflect on the lessons the past year has taught all of us.
Lesson 1: When times get tough, resilience shines through
One’s character tends to truly come out during challenging times. If we’re resilient, then we’re the kind of person who adapts. The kind who rolls with the punches, looks for opportunities, hopes for the best while working to make it happen.
On the other hand, there’s a certain group of us who tend to give up in the face of adversity. They’re the kind of person who stops dead in their tracks, resisting change and complaining about how much they wish things could just be like they used to be.
Lesson 2: There’s no such thing as fully prepared
In the midst of difficult circumstances, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that we don’t know the future as well as we think. Even the best-prepared leaders can be befuddled by the unexpected, which is something that COVID illustrated pretty well.
We might prepare for one set of circumstances only to face something completely different. But being caught off-guard isn’t a bad thing, provided we acknowledge the truth of our situation. When leaders refuse to accept reality, they compound the trouble that’s in front of them and make it harder to resolve.
Lesson 3: Hope is a choice
Of all the 2020 lessons, this one is probably the most important. While many companies have done what’s necessary to pivot and remain in business, not all companies have actually embraced hope.
Hope shows us there is a way forward as long as we work to find it. All other positions, from pessimism to optimism, suggest that the future is out of our hands. Hopeful leaders know this is simply not true. We can choose to shape the future, even if we can’t control it.