Six things I am grateful for as this wacky, wild year draws to a close
I love Thanksgiving. It is by far my favorite holiday. Family, turkey, relaxing with family and friends over a glass of wine and some football. Fall weather makes one last stand before formally yielding to the chill of winter. It is a low pressure holiday, requiring little more than eating, drinking and being merry. Thanksgiving really only has one formal request – take some time and give thanks for all of our blessings. What’s not to like?
Well, 2020 has challenged everything else and maybe Thanksgiving should be no different. The global pandemic rages on and travel and gatherings are wisely being restricted. It would be easy to let this crazy year once again win and ruin my favorite holiday.
Given all that has transpired over the past year, is there really all that much to be thankful for as 2020 calls to a close? Who better than the great Charles Dickens to call upon for the answer…
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Thanks Chuck!! Refusing to yield to 2020, I drew up the following list of things to be thankful for in 2020.
- Innovation. Has there ever been a year in which humanity was challenged to think differently about every aspect of life? To solve problems, locally and globally? To work collectively without discretion or discrimination, to come up with new ways to do just about everything? It is inspiring to think of all the innovations – big and small – that emerged in 2020.
- Entrepreneurship. New business ideas came forward rapidly, attempting to solve the myriad of issues 2020 threw at us. Unfortunately, many businesses suffered in 2020 and that is not to be overlooked. But how many new concepts came forward that have never before been considered? Trends that were expected to take 10 years were accelerated to 10 days and entrepreneurs with the right mindset stepped up to build new and exciting businesses like never before.
- Open mindedness. 2020 forced everyone to think differently even about the most basic aspects of life. “I need to work in an office.” “I need to see my customers in person.” “Toilet paper is easy to find” … Just about everything I was “certain” about 12 months ago was called into question. There is so much learning when “beliefs” get challenged and I am eternally grateful for all of my false certitudes that got tossed out the window in 2020.
- Social Change is Good Business. 2020 painfully reminded all of us how far we have to go to achieve true social justice. Our lack of progress was evident way too often. No one likes to see protest and violence – but from the dark comes new movements, new actions and new commitments. If nothing else, 2020 showed us the power of social movements to bring change – and that business and entrepreneurship can no longer sit on the sidelines and avoid the fray. I am thankful for the business leaders and entrepreneurs who accepted the challenge to think and act differently.
- Democracy. The election of 2020 damn near drove everyone crazy and at times it seemed that the United States was like a pressure cooker ready to explode. Democracy done right means that no one is completely happy with the final results. I am inspired that an estimated 161 million Americans voted in 2020, by far the largest number in history. Once again, the US will have a peaceful transfer of power between political parties under a democratic system. Look around at the rest of the world and think about how rare that really is…
- Family Time. I love my family but wow did I spend a lot of time with them in 2020! We all struggled to stay sane with quarantines, social distancing, work / school from home. Zoom calls were interrupted, school and screen time became the same thing and having a glass of wine at 3pm suddenly seemed normal (anyone, anyone??). It has been a challenge for all of us. But when I think back to 2020, many of my favorite memories will be about unexpected family time. Small things that I never dreamed possible. How many times do you get to sneak out of your home office at lunch to go play a game of UNO with your kids on a Tuesday? Family dinners every night. No business travel. Movie nights. The list goes on and on.
So that is my list. What do you think? I refuse to let 2020 steal my gratitude. Perhaps you will challenge these observations as reckless optimism, Pollyannaish ramblings or selective memory. That is a fine response. That response is a choice like everything else. I do acknowledge that I make these observations from a privileged and fortunate place. I am grateful for that as well.
I like to think everything happens for a reason and 2020 is no different. My glass is more than half full and I am filled with all the lessons and blessings that this year brought me. Give it some thought. What are you thankful for right now?
Maybe there is more than a little to be thankful for in your life. I would love to hear from you – what did I miss?