Hindsight is 2020

Hindsight is 2020

A year seemingly defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, palpable evidence of climate change, escalation of social justice movements, enormous increase in the support for mental health, the urgent need to address diversity, equality and inclusion, the most contentious elections in U.S. history and cold war trade conflicts. 2020 has presented challenges never seen before and put many of us through the wringer.

Despite all this, 2020 has also yielded the creation of unparalleled entertainment events, opportunities for personal growth, invention of new business ideas, pivoting existing ones and forcing us to redefine ourselves outside of our routines to face our futures with a more intense sense of purpose and much-needed hope.

However, frequently lost within the roller coaster that is 2020 is our mental well-being — our sense of personal happiness in relation to a global scourge. As macro-level threats challenge the safety of humanity, it seems almost wrong to dwell on ourselves.

So, as we walk out of 2020, what learnings do we take with us?

Whether you’re looking to reminisce on the year’s bright or brash spots or work out what your hopes for change in the year to come will be, there is much to think about.

I tried to work out one word that would describe this year and I couldn’t. It has been the most indescribable year of our lives. “Crazy” feels like an understatement, so does “irregular”, “volatile” more like it, “unpredictable” defines most of life anyway.

What was different about 2020 compared to other years?

You have witnessed people all around the world become inextricably linked through one shared experience. 2020 is a year when you see, not only your soul, but your emotions and your humanity clearly in others.

As this global connection takes its course, we will all have moments when we feel alone, isolated, misunderstood or torn apart. Then days when we feel there is an army of individuals, organisations and government standing outside our door to provide support.

2020 has made us question our ethics, morals, belief systems, our faith and who and what is important. Major issues can divide us over mental health, climate change, politics, technology. It’s taken us to another level of impacting our emotions and thoughts. It has, in many instances, rearranged or re-evaluated what is important for our own lives or our families.

And unfortunately, these divisions will physically manifest in ways that future generations will read about one day. On the flip side, and a brighter side, you got the chance to use your voice, even when you were apprehensive.

Am I excited to see 2020 behind us? Of course, I am. But there have been so many things to learn that I hope we are all a lot wiser about the way we treat each other, that respect becomes a primary resonating emotional thought process in our speak, our actions, in use of technology and in the way we present ourselves to each other.

I have seen and experienced, recently, actions of disrespect or impatience, not necessarily to me but to people around me. I hope takeaways from this year include truly understanding patience, resilience, kindness, empathy, consideration and compassion.

That we turn our attention to Australian business and expand purchasing locally, even if it does cost an extra dollar or two.

Most of the things that happened this year, were not anticipated and couldn’t have been expected.

And if they were, they won’t be the way you planned it. But as resilient Australians, we ‘pivoted’ and created flexible plans, adapted new ways and adopted new strategies. We varied our behaviours to look at life, changing the perspective and adjusting our vision to fit our day to day.

I think we now have found a greater understanding of empathy. We value hugs and handshakes and when we do get them or give them, they feel warmer and more deliberate. Human touch was one of the major withdrawals we had to contend with this year and even though technology has a significant place amongst the younger generations, their reactions to being locked inside reflected the need for freedom. This should be more important than social media. We can only hope!

2020 has been a year of discovery and reconsideration, a year of contradictions and a year of selective blank slates.

Being locked in a house with a partner or family for long periods of time, created contrary emotions. We saw an increase in domestic violence, increase in drinking, an escalation of anxiety and stress between partners but on the flipside, we learnt to appreciate teachers, nurses, doctors and frontline workers. We have seen individuals go beyond their limits to be compassionate towards another. We may even see a spike in the number of babies being born in the next year.

While these past 12 months have been destructive in their delivery of epiphanies, they delivered nonetheless. All while watching each continent shut its borders and attempt to lock out, or lock in, the impending disarray and chaos whilst at the same time finding the truth about what’s important to us.

2020 has been a year of discovery and reconsideration, a year of contradictions and a year of selective blank slates. And for all of us, who often extoll the catharsis of understanding and defining our feelings, it was a year of finally learning the meaning of words we had previously overused: gratitude, happiness, family, privilege and bittersweet.

The months that we spent at home this year were months of intense, sometimes devastating periods of internal reflection. For the first time in years, you may have asked yourself what you want from life. Who do you want to be? What would make you happy? Do you like the things you are doing and what are the demands that you have from life?

To be honest, the answers may be unimportant compared to the process itself. The act of checking in with yourself was the important part. There was clarity in knowing that our aspirations were not a product of habit. Quarantining at home showed us what our true priorities were and are. There is beauty in reflection and rumination, in spending time with oneself.

Over this year, we’ve learnt to untangle our sense of worth. The inequitable impact of the health crisis showed us that productivity is a luxury that not many can always afford.

Each country held its own class on human happiness and hopefully we have been taught the incredible effect of “awe” on humans. It’s easy to be awed by incredible experiences, fantastic events, life changing moments. But we need to let ourselves be in awe of the seemingly insignificant – a small scientific discovery, a succinct line of code that can evolutionise an idea, the cleansing of the oceans and rivers, the clearing of mountain vistas hidden for years and overall nature had a time out from the human condition.

To finish – a wonderful statement by Anthony Hopkins. The veteran actor also admitted that he had ‘off days’ and ‘little bits of doubts’ as well as a video we have all loved “The Great Realisation.”

“All I say is hang in there. Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday…people, don’t give up… just keep fighting. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. That’s what I got to say. A Happy New Year! This is going to be the best year, thank you.” Anthony Hopkins

Remember, there’s a message in Your Voice!

What’s important in today’s business? Communication, partnerships, customers, profit, loyalty or passion – establishing, building and endorsing relationships is so important in order to have it all.

Today, I experienced how business can lose its connection through electronic communication and assumptions and waste hours in the day.  Then in a simple 10minute phone call rebuild it by listening to the tone and purpose of the words said between two intelligent individuals.

Words are often very imprecise vehicles of communication. If anyone else has noticed lately, written English in a world of such diversity and multiculturalism is not always accurate nor does it hold the true spirit of what’s being portrayed or meant.

istock_photo_of_two_people_talking-2When someone speaks to you the voice is powerful and the accompanying expressions are a powerful tool to find solutions, create partnerships or win relationships.
In addition, there’s so much information coming at us at once and often we only listen halfheartedly to the conversations around us.  Yet, a conversation can still be the most powerful way of communicating.  We will respond quicker and pay attention to a friendly approachable voice than one that is dull, monotone or angry.

So if you have issues to resolve, solutions to find maybe pick up the phone, cultivate a responsive tone in your voice and find the obvious benefits that a 10-minute conversation will bring to your life.  While speech is how you use words, voice is how you create sound. To your listeners, your voice is a part of who you are and what you believe.

Remember, there’s a message in Your Voice!

Look at me, look at me! The I Generation

How many times do we see people sitting together having lunch, or walking together and not looking at each other at all? When was the last time you put your phone or tablet away and actually looked at the person next to you long enough to notice?  Did you notice their face changing in any way; a new wrinkle; the colour of their eyes; a new hairstyle or just how wonderful their smile is?

When was the last time you looked at someone to see their beauty, inside not just out?

In this day and age of high levels of communication and technology we are missing what’s really important – understanding non-verbal communication. Have we come so far that we are lost – that young people feel estranged and lonely from their friends yet their Facebook says they have hundreds of them. Their Instagram is full of photos and yet there is no one to listen to their opinions.

Research reported by Time Magazine, finds that the younger generations and students have less empathy and ability to understand and share the feelings of others than students of previous generations. Digital communication, social networking, video conferencing and other forms of new media are being blamed for this loss of empathy.

In this day and age it’s much easier to say negative things about others if you don’t have to say it to their face and if you don’t like engaging in your problems, you simply log off or even ‘unfriend’ yourself.

But then who do you talk to and who do you believe really understands what your going through?

The trouble with the easy option of technology is that there is no empathy, when we don’t work to understand the needs of others there is also a significant loss of trust.  If someone doesn’t really know you and what you’re thinking then it has been proven that they trust you less. This is why so many young people feel more isolated.

This can have major implications for their personal lives and when they go into the business world where trust is essential for successful leadership and partnerships.

The most important thing is that when you respond to the needs and feelings of other people, you gain their trust.

Others may be labelled uncaring and insensitive, but you will be trusted when you’re able to understand and respond to the needs and values of individuals, and the group.

Take the time to get to know someone around you that you have not spent any time with, especially in your workplace. Look at them and find out through old fashioned interactions of face to face who they are. You just may find a great new friendship, a trusting relationship or a long term ally.