To merely say that 2020 was a challenging year would be the understatement of the century. The litany of challenges faced was unprecedented—a term that was used more times this year than I have probably heard in my entire lifetime. Starting with the worldwide pandemic and followed by toilet paper hoarding, murder hornets, an economic roller coaster, social unrest, raging wildfires, global warming, earthquakes, and cybercriminals stepping up their game, 2020 relentlessly delivered continuous hits.
As I sat down and reflected upon all the events of 2020 and lessons that I learned both professionally and personally, I got stuck in the “P” folder of my brain’s vocabulary section and extracted the following words.
Pivot like Steph
Much like Steph Curry during a big game, 2020 had most businesses on the balls of their feet, shifting and pivoting several times throughout the year. I am currently recovering from rotator cuff repair surgery (one of 2020’s personal gifts), and often during my timed exercises, I have thought to myself, “Wow! Two minutes is a LONG time when you are in pain”. At least I can rest in between drills and somewhat prepare for the next round of torture.
Most businesses did not have that luxury in 2020. There wasn’t time to rest or regroup as there were just too many new things to figure out. Some examples include shifting to remote work, redesigning workspaces to implement social distancing and extra cleaning, relocating services outdoors, providing curbside pickup, and navigating the convoluted PPP funding. Social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and contact tracing had to be woven into playbooks. Wineries and distilleries changed lines to produce sanitizer, and car manufacturers shutdown vehicle production lines to assemble PPE and ventilators. Some businesses closed, re-opened, and then closed again. Unfortunately, those businesses that couldn’t pivot appropriately ended up closing permanently.
Planning Prevents Chaos
I would venture to bet that many businesses either dusted off antiquated copies of their business continuity and disaster recovery plans to make some serious updates or possibly even had to start writing them from scratch. Keeping these plans up to date and regularly testing them can make a significant difference in how a company responds to and recovers from a disaster (or multiple impactful events).
Protection on Many Levels
Protection was a predominant theme for this year. Protecting the economy, human rights, people from the virus, small businesses, and digital data against cybercriminals were all top of mind. We started using hand sanitizer by the gallons and covered our faces with masks or plastic shields. We conducted meetings and visited family, friends, and even doctors via video instead of in person. Cybercriminals stepped up their game, targeting small and large businesses alike. Security on all fronts will be even more critical as we move into the new year.
Patience is a Virtue
Merriam-Webster defines patience as “the ability to remain calm when dealing with a difficult or annoying situation, task, or person.” In normal times this is hard enough to do, but the perfect storm of this year’s events challenged even the most patient soul. The lesson to be learned here is that we never truly know what someone is dealing with or how they are handling the burdens they are carrying. Making the extra effort to be patient and listen to a co-worker can make a difference in the interactions you have with them and possibly even brighten their day.
People are Vital to Success
We have a while yet before robots completely replace humans (besides, the humans need to build/program the robots in the first place). Whether a company makes widgets, grows food, performs a service, or provides consulting, people are still its most important asset. Employee health, safety, and happiness ultimately determine creativity, productivity, and overall effectiveness. The extra care taken to preserve these things for your employees can be the difference between a struggling and thriving business.
Phoenix: Rising from the Ashes
Just like the mythical bird, the Phoenix, we will rise out of the ashes of 2020 stronger and better suited to tackle the next big challenge to come our way. New inventions, along with scientific and technological advances, will be made. Many lessons will be learned, and humanity will endure.
I wish you every success in the year ahead and don’t forget the six Ps.