It’s easy to rattle off the ways 2020 has been challenging and even downright awful. No need to recite them here.
A year ago, I remember my joyful anticipation of 2020: a new decade, a round number, the end of an extremely hard year. In September of 2018, Nancy’s team of doctors discovered a recurrence of her breast cancer. Immediately, we were thrust back into the fight. 2019 was a year of hair loss and hospitals and fear. By the end of the year, though Nancy’s treatment was over, we felt beaten down. We were shaken. We couldn’t wait to turn the page.
In order to adjust our mindset, together we made a list of our highlights of 2019. It was actually a long and meaningful list. Our year had been full of love and support from people near and far. We had celebrated milestones and victories along the way to kicking cancer’s ass. We had found ways to take care of ourselves, physically and emotionally. The US Women’s National Team had won the World Cup.
Here we are at the end of another year, one that also requires creativity and resilience to find the bright spots. I am convinced they are there – for all of us. Even in typical times, it’s natural to want the year to be over and to get a fresh start. Who has ever said, “Oh, I wish this year would last just a little longer”? And, 2020 was far from typical. Next year brings the promise of a new president, a vaccine, and hopefully a return to some semblance of normalcy.
But, not so fast. What has 2020 brought?
What memories, victories or lessons do you want to hold onto from 2020? Your initial answer might be absolutely nothing. But, I have a hunch that if you sit still and really think about it, your list will surprise you.
2020 forced us out of our routines and interrupted the momentum of our lives. We were challenged in profound and uncomfortable ways. Here’s the thing: that is exactly when true learning takes place. How have you changed? What were your moments of unexpected joy? What did you learn?
For me, writing Everyday Leadership is one of the gifts of 2020. Early in shelter in place, I asked myself a series of questions.
- What does connection look like in a time of social distancing?
- How can I use this time to stretch and grow?
- How will I advocate for things I believe in and step up as a visible model of positive leadership?
- How can I use my voice more powerfully now and in the future?
These questions led me to share my thoughts about leadership and the capacity and power in each of us. I am still wandering my way through this new endeavor, but along the way I have gained so much. I am proud of the ways I am trying to embody my best self. I feel connected to so many others who are seeking to do the same. I am learning every day.
This is my last post of 2020. I am going to sign off by sharing something I wrote in a workshop led by my dear friend Shannon Hughes. Shannon’s workshop, Permission to Show Up, used improv-inspired activities, writing prompts, and discussions to encourage participants to think back on our year and dream about the future. In one exercise, we shared a personal reflection from 2020 with a partner who then responded to the following prompts:
- What I hear in you…
- What I’m curious about…
- What I want to honor in you…
Wow. Those are powerful things for someone to reflect back to you.
In another activity, Shannon adapted a common story spine to help us think about our hopes for the year ahead. A story spine, in case you are wondering, is an improv technique used to jumpstart a story and construct a logical order of events.
This is the classic story spine:
But one day…
And because of that…
And because of that…
And, ever since then…
Shannon adapted the story spine to help us articulate our purposes and hopes. Here’s what I wrote:
Once there was a woman who wanted to help people feel powerful.
And everyday she wrote or talked or taught about our unique potential.
Because of that she met many amazing people trying to make a difference in the world.
Because of that she learned from them and they learned from her.
Because of that more people shared their stories and their viewpoints.
By the end of the year, she felt hopeful and purposeful.
And ever since then, the world has been a more inclusive and just and beautiful place.
Thank you for joining me on this Everyday Leadership adventure. Thank you for reading each week and for sharing your thoughts. Thank you for working to make the world a little kinder. Thank you for your friendship, your inspiration and for the joy you bring into my life.