No doubt there will be many posts online about the lessons of 2020. These are mine, and they are based off authentic personal experiences and learnings over the past 12 months. I don’t use textbooks, and neither do I Google ideas. These are all from my head and my heart direct onto this blog. These lessons were magnified to me during this crazy, yet truly rewarding year, and I know that once they have been learned, they will become immensely valuable to me in the future.
I hope you will find them valuable too. Here we go…
My Top 5 Learnings from 2020
1. No Experience is ever Bad
If you see me in the streets after reading this, avoid the temptation to hit me in the head with your shoe. I know for some, this might be too soon. Some of you have lost loved ones, and others have been fighting to put food on the table for their families. I understand this. I was probably 2-3 months away from losing a business, something I could never have possibly imagined at the beginning of 2020. This year has certainly delivered some very testing experiences for all of us. I still insist though that once you find the learnings and the meaning, you will be a better, stronger person as a result of those experiences.
Human beings like to be in control of everything because when you are in control you feel safe and secure. What 2020 taught us in spectacular fashion, is that you simply cannot control everything. When pushed way outside the realms of comfort and security you will label an event as being negative. The minute you label an event, you attach to it all sorts of negative emotions, and then you live in the pain, fear, hurt, sadness or guilt. You quite often will be consumed by that emotion for days, weeks, or months. Eventually though, the cycle ends. It’s called the Law of Rhythm. The red mist rises and you look back on the event, without emotion, and you see the event for what it was. An opportunity to learn.
The sooner you find the learnings or the meaning behind the uncontrollable event, you step outside of the emotions. 2020 has prepared us for the future in a way that no other experience could. Think about it. How completely unprepared were you for COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown? I bet you if it happened again, you’s handle it so different. If you’ve found the lessons you will. If you simply put your head down and did not adjust to the lessons, well guess what? You’re going to experience the same pain until you learn the lessons you need to learn.
No experience is ever bad. It’s an opportunity to learn, and grow to a new level in your life. That is, if you have your eyes open to the learnings.
2. Risk versus Reward
Entrepreneurship is glorified on social media, especially with the youth. Influencers posting inspirational pics from their private jets online only make it worse. Most entrepreneurs will never see the inside of a private jet, let alone get the opportunity to fly in one. They are too busy making ends meet, hustling daily to ensure their business supports their lifestyle, feeds their family, and the families of their employees. That’s the reality for most.
2020 destroyed many dreams. It didn’t matter wheter you were a hardened entrepreneur with years of experience, or a start-up still working towards break-even, 2020 taught entrepreneurs the real meaning of risk. Knowing that you can lose it all at any moment, due to factors completely out of your control, is grounding. I mentioned that my business was 2-3 months away from disaster. Towards the end of lockdown I was starting to really feel the stress of some of the decisions I was going to be asked to make. Fortunately for me, it never got to that, but it was close. I spoke to friends daily during lockdown who weren’t so fortunate. Some were forced to do whatever it takes to bring money home to their families, and others were so low, almost as if their entire identity had been ripped away from them. Many were in tears, or close to it, yet still had to put on a brave face for their staff.
This is the type of risk that makes entreneurship special. Those who truly have skin in the game and the ability to lose it all know this feeling too well. It also makes the rewards taste even sweeter. Entrepreneurship has taught me about risk versus reward. 2020 magnified it. Even in my personal life, I will risk the pain of getting what I want, if I know the reward is worth it. I don’t always get what I want, and I do experience pain from time to time, but pain passes eventually. The rewards though, they can last forever.
Thanks to 2020 I’ve learned to trust my own gut, back myself and my own decisions, and not get too caught up in the opinions of those who don’t have skin in the game. I’ll also never again be ashamed to make a decent profit. That’s part of the reward for taking the risk.
3. Actions over Words
Big lesson for me this year – People will always do what they want. Their words might tell you what they want you to hear or think, but if you watch them carefully, their actions will always reveal what they are really too afraid to tell you. This is true in business as well as in your personal life. Very few people in this world are authentic enough to tell you the straight honest truth, no matter how hard it may be for them to say, or for you to hear. It’s part of human nature. You cannot control the will of another, therefore, if you’re ever in doubt, watch their actions. That’s how they speak their truth.
It’s the same for you too. You tell yourself all sorts of rubbish to justify your lack of actions. You’re placing your words above action all the time. Your words though, will never bring you the success or happiness you are looking for. Your actions bring results. In fact, I can go as far as saying that your entire life experience to date is a direct result of not only the actions you have taken, but also the result of the actions you did not take.
Your self-talk is often proven to be wrong once you take action. Remember that all negative emotions are a derivative of fear, and most of your fears are self-made beliefs based off past experiences that you have hung onto as a form of self-preservation. These fears are preventing you from moving forward because you use them as an excuse to avoid taking action. Well, if you never try, then you’ll never know. Rather take action and prove your own thoughts to be false.
Actions over words. Always.
4. The Future does not exist.
The future does not exist? It took me a while to comprehend this after reading ‘The Power Of Now’, by Eckhardt Tolle. Of course the future exists, but your future is completely dependent on what you focus on in the present moment. If 2020 taught us all one thing, its that the future will never exist in any shape or form that you might imagine it to be. There are so many variables that are out of your control, including global pandemics, world stock market crashes, decisions made by governments, and of course, the actions of other people.
You and I spend a ridiculous amount of time planning for the perfect future. Its great to have your goals and dreams, and of course its important to plan for the future, but if you spend your entire life waiting for your perfect future to unfold, then how many magic moments are you missing in the present? If you become too attached to any specific outcome, then you’re never going to see those amazing opportunities that are spontaneously floating through your life on a daily basis.
Focus on the present moment. This got me through lockdown in 2020. The future was uncertain, and every single goal I had been working for, some of which had been 3 years in the making, were suddenly placed on hold. I’m sure for you it was the same. If you had any temptation to hang onto your plans for sentimental reasons while the world rapidly changed around you, then you will probably find that you’re feeling a little stuck right now. The world shifted and moved off in a different direction. You cannot control that. Your future may not end up in reality as it does in your dreams. Open your eyes to the present moment and make good decisions based on what’s in front of you right now.
5. Be Who you Want to Attract
Gosh, this is a tough one. When all seems lost or the universe seems to be taking you on a detour that you did not expect, maintaining the true essence of who you are, and who you are meant to be can be difficult. Of all the lessons 2020 delivered, this has been by far the hardest for me on a personal level. I probably have yet to master this, but I know it’s one I have to persist with.
I read once somewhere that if you want to receive love, you have to give love first. If you want to receive kindness, you have to give kindness first. If you want respect, you have to give respect first. Nothing is received unless you give first.
There will be times when you will know that you are giving to the wrong person. There will be times when you will question whether or not you will ever receive the recognition, praise, kindness, gratitude or love that you will give out, and you will often be tempted to recoil back into your shell. That won’t do you any good though. You have to persist.
Givers attract takers unfortunately. Your defence will be boundaries. 2020 has delivered a massive lesson on how to set boundaries and maintain them for your own self care. You cannot control the actions of those who simply want to take what you give in abundance. You get to control how you set and enforce your boundaries with them. You also get to choose to be the person you want to attract. Persist with the giving. Eventually you will get what you deserve.