Our Top 10 Lessons of 2020

At a holiday gathering with friends we asked, “what are you most grateful for in 2020?” There were grumbly comments about how crappy it was, and then someone spoke up about the gifts of the year. This conversation got us thinking about what we’ve  learned over one of the most interesting years we’ve experienced.

  1. Humans need humans – being around people matters. After being sheltered in place for eight weeks we went to a friend’s house for dinner. It was so good to have conversation, share a meal and remember what other people were like!
  2. Focus is hard in the midst of uncertainty – From all the neuroscience research we’ve done, we knew that uncertainty is a major brain threat. The pandemic reinforced that reality in a big way. 2020 was a banner year for uncertainty. What helped maintain focus was shifting from the long range to short term immediate things that could be accomplished.
  3. Nature is essential. Being trapped 49 stories above the ground for weeks on end was more draining that we realized. From one concrete structure to another and all the asphalt parking lots in between, it was a long time before we were in nature. More than ever, we value the outdoors and look forward to regular hikes in the mountains (keep reading to discover why!)
  4. Moments matter – there was a lot of sameness. Being intentional about creating interesting moments and interesting memories added color to what otherwise could have been a dull nine months. One of the most fun things we did was get takeout from a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. It made dinner delightful and we had fun replicating Grant Achatz’s brilliant food artistry. The cool thing is that we can now say we had takeout from a Michelin star restaurant, which you can only relate to if you’re a fellow foodie 🙂
  5. Change doesn’t develop character, it reveals it – we all got in touch with the good, the bad and the ugly. We had no choice – after some intense frenetic times figuring things out, we all stopped moving long enough to just BE. Some people got to know themselves, their homes and their people better than ever before.
  6. Habits matter, practices matter more – change is disruptive, but we can still make choices. 2020 disrupted a lot of habits – the sets of behaviors we do repeatedly, like get up, have coffee, work out, shower and go to work. Practices are the things you identify with, like healthy eating. Habits are eating oatmeal or yogurt and blueberries every day. If the oatmeal runs out, the habit gets stalled but the practice can guide your choices.
  7. The lenses you use can be accidental or purposeful – we are all shaped by perspective. The lens that you use can be accidental – because it’s being dictated by the media. Or it can be purposeful – deciding where you will focus your attention and time. It’s easy to get your attention drawn in random directions if you aren’t purposefully choosing your lens.
  8. Virtual is great but there is no substitute for in-person. Donna got an eye infection in March, it got worse and worse over the months. At one point she was wearing a patch over her eye. She did a telemedicine visit but it fixed nothing. Not until she was able to see an ophthalmologist and get several steroid injections did it start to clear up. Whether it’s seeing a doctor in person or hugging friends and family…Zoom only goes so far!
  9. Dreams do come true. With focus, determination and divine intervention, our dream of living in Scottsdale, AZ happened three years sooner than we had planned. It was May 16th after walking through a barren, desolate Chicago that we decided it was time to move on. We made an offer on a house September 18th and moved in on November 3rd. Here’s to 300+ days of sunshine a year!
  10. 2020 Vision. For many people, 2020 created clarity.  It brought into focus what really mattered. We found that people, being outside in nature and intentional purpose were keys for our survival. What did you discover? What became clearer for you?

Whatever your experience of 2020 was, we hope you are ready for great things in 2021. Join us in the Rebel Leader Community or for an upcoming presentation. We’re excited about what’s next…

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