LEARNINGS FROM 2020
THE GIFTS OF A CHALLENGING YEAR
I want to start with a reflection of what this year has brought to us. It’s a bit of hindsight and it is imperative that we reflect and grasp the learnings from some of the most difficult moments in our lives.
I tried to find simple words to best describe what 2020 meant to me in this process. This is by far one of the greatest and hardest year of my entire life!
This was one of the biggest Wakeup Calls that humanity has faced in history. We weren’t ready for this. Everything around us went on a pause we have never seen. We lost control of our daily routines. We lost the option to choose when we come and go.
The world wasn’t prepared to respond and embrace the challenges presented by 2020, it definitely brought us a lot of humility.
With this rude wakeup call came a lot of pain and fear, and through the struggles of this year, we were gifted with personal growth. Because the pandemic required us all actually to push ourselves to spaces we never thought possible.
- It challenged the status quo.
- It defied conventions.
- It broke old norms.
And it created space for the new normal to rise. But no one really knows what the new normal looks like. To come out of this stronger than ever before, we have to put things in perspective.
Personally, 2020 has taught me the importance and power that were slowing down has for our lives. Our family bond is stronger together. We now had time to reconnect. We are a dual-career family with equal importance on each other’s success and ambitions for those who know me well enough.
We have to make sure that we are constantly supporting each other in balancing our priorities. With the first lockdown, we brought a much stronger balance to our household responsibilities. This was only possible because we had to slow down.
We came much closer together.
Another critical element that 2020 highlighted is the importance of community — the importance of having a supporting network. For example, Clemson has been in my life for the last 20 plus years. I hold it very close to my heart because it changed my life for the better. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities, the experiences, and the people I’ve met at Clemson.
During these unprecedented times, it became even more important that integrity is at the core of how we live our lives. It boils down to how we treat people and how we make decisions. The crazy thing about all of this is that the world came to a full stop during the pandemic because of COVID-19. We tend to forget everything else that’s going around.
In January, we had a pretty serious situation in Australia with the bushfires. We also had the climate change movement led by Greta Thunberg. Then, when we thought we’re coming out or a pandemic, we got hit by one of the most important social movements in the world’s history with black lives matter. Whenever the world thought we’re getting back into it, it feels like that morning you don’t want to get out of bed, and you keep hitting the snooze button.
You keep waking up and going back to bed.
So, what all of this mean for all of us? We felt extremely overwhelmed and feel very insignificant in the face of these huge global issues. But we had to figure out how to cope with these unstoppable changes without knowing the following:
- What role should we play in all of this?
- What is the role you want to play as a leader?
- What is the role you want to play as a human being as a friend?
Whatever we are going to do!
It has to be meaningful because we’re only going to get out of all of this if we do it together.
We reset our lives, created new habits, and actually think a lot harder about the decisions we make in our lives and how these impact our society. For this to happen in a sustainable way, we must keep our values in check.
I would like to leave you with one last message!
Make sure your actions are congruent to what you say, do, and feel in every aspect of your life — as an individual in your community, as a leader at work, as a friend, every single time.
Then, spread opitimism into the world that you live in an authentic way. Simply, be true to who you are!