As I write this end-of-the-year column, I’ve got a cold. Yes, it’s a cold. It’s not Omicron or Delta or whatever. It’s a cold. But if I went out on the street, people would literally run from me. This is the kind of year we’ve had.
Looking back at my December column for 2020, I could almost cut-and-paste it again here. That was not what was supposed to happen. 2021 was to be the year of returning to some kind of normal, of beginning to hope again, of economic recovery. In may ways, however, it was a repeat of 2020, with new nuances that kept us all guessing.
Think of the mental snapshots you have of this year.
- Not recognizing people you know well because they were masked.
- A huge drop in your dining-out bill from previous years.
- Olympic competition without applause because the seats were empty.
- What hockey season?
- Huge jump in your hand sanitizer budget.
- Designer masks to keep it interesting — or at least, less annoying.
- Learning the Greek alphabet, and hoping you don’t have to remember it.
- Wild fires, floods, over-the-top heat and cold.
- Society-shaking revelations of past tragedies.
- A whiff of freedom to go dine out, followed by another lock-down.
- Bankruptcies, business closures, lost jobs.
It’s been a sober year. And yet, it’s been a year of growth, as well.
- Greater appreciation of the job you have, no matter what you thought of it before.
- Poignant appreciation of the smallest human gesture of unity.
- Realizing what’s important, and not just the “tyranny of the urgent.”
- Focusing on what you CAN do, and not just what is not allowed.
- Finding out the roses really do smell good when you stop to smell them.
- Learning to measure time in “today” and not “next year” or “five year plans.”
- Getting to know your family all over again, because you have time to do so.
What will 2022 hold? I’m not so foolish as to make a projection. But I’m also not so beaten down by what has occurred in the last few years to think there won’t be a brighter day coming. People are adaptable. They don’t necessarily like change, but when it comes, they learn to deal with it over time. That’s what will happen to all of us, regardless what comes next.
Your business will never be the same. Yes, it may return to former profitability eventually, but it will be different. You’ll have learned lessons and new skills during this pandemic season that will go forward with you into the future. You’ll certainly value every customer more than you ever have before, and you’ll be much more sensitive to their needs because we’ve all been through something unforgettable. Your employees take on new significance, as well. When you have to redesign how you work in order to safeguard their lives, it changes the way you look at each other. Your team is special, and valuable, and wonderful.
There’s a saying that when you drive in the dark, you can only see a small distance ahead using your headlights. However, you can actually cross the entire country that way. Turn on your lights, rev up the engine, and let’s navigate 2022 safely, with courage and with hope.
Wishing you the best,