READ TIME: 4 minutes.

Beneath all the headlines in 2020, we quietly learned these ten skills that will help us make every year a little better.

Who knew, one year ago, that 2020 would be such a remarkable year? Truly remarkable. Challenging. Unique. Devastating. Unexpected. Whatever adjective rings most true, 2020 was a year unlike any other. 

The world was tested by rampant brushfires and wildfires, record-breaking heat, melting icebergs, and an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season. The U.S. political stage was spotted with a presidential impeachment, acquittal, contested elections, pardons, and electoral confirmation of a new administration. The killing of George Floyd ignited a movement for racial justice across the country. COVID-19 went from an unknown pathogen to a devastating pandemic that has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe. And now, just as the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. tops 300,000, we have some history-making good news in the international rollout of the first vaccinations against the dreaded virus. 

When we wrote about COVID-19 in February 2020, the global infection count (not deaths) was 82,000. We had no idea how much the new coronavirus would change everything. Since then, we’ve learned so many things. Many of us learned the art and science of working from home – with or without little ones underfoot who were schooling from home, too. For sure, we all learned the skills of connecting virtually over Zoom, Teams, and other virtual conferencing platforms – for work and in our personal lives. We also mastered the skill of wearing a mask – and not just for Halloween. 

Beneath the headline news, we quietly learned a whole set of skills and competencies that helped us navigate the many ups and downs of the year. These skills will help us make every other year a little better, too. 

We are grateful to 2020 for helping us sharpen these ten skills:

  1. Adapting to Change. So much of this year was out of our control. It’s easy to overlook the fact that most of us got better at adapting to change. Whether we were leading our companies, organizations, or teams or simply adjusting our individual work and personal lives to fit our new normal, we all got a little better at doing things differently this year. 
  2. Listening. We all have different life stories, shaped by our unique experiences, our knowledge, our belief systems. Research proves time and again the value of bringing diverse perspectives together to tackle problems or questions better. 2020 encouraged us to listen better. To seek out and learn from people who are different from us. By learning to listen with compassion and openness, we learned and grew. 
  3. Challenging Our Own Thinking. There were many tough conversations this year. Our country heatedly debated racial injustice, law enforcement effectiveness and funding, climate change, and politics–often with a divisive, blinding goal of winning the argument. Yet we also witnessed company, community, and government leaders lean into those conversations and publicly reconsider what’s happening. They started to challenge their own thinking about the way things have always been. From such models, many of us have learned to stretch, to learn, and to re-think what we thought we knew. We’ve started to see things differently and open up to new possibilities.
  4. Taking Care of Ourselves. Whether exploring an employer’s ramped-up wellness program or adjusting to the pandemic as a marathon (not a sprint), many of us started taking better care of ourselves. Former commutes became walks in the neighborhood. We learned to cook more, meditate, and exercise at home. And we learned to care for ourselves by finding new ways to connect with others. 
  5. Speaking Up. 2020 has given many of us a voice. It became more accepted, more necessary, to speak up. Without the daily cues and norms of being together, some learned to raise hands and voices to ask for the help they needed to get things done. We spoke out about injustice and committed ourselves and our communities to do better. We spoke of hope and strength to support and inspire those around us. 
  6. Helping Others. Despite vast economic hardships, charitable giving and donated time are up this year. When times are tough, people donate money, volunteer, and try to help their neighbors. Not surprisingly, crowdfunding platform GoFundMe reported that this year’s giving focused on some of America’s biggest struggles: hunger, racism, and COVID-19.
  7. Practicing Patience. Our 24/7, instant-everything world was upset this year. Supply chains were disrupted, and grocery store shelves are still inconsistently stocked. Mail and package deliveries have slowed. Technology systems are periodically taxed. We have gotten more patient with ourselves and those around us as we all learn how to use new tools and resources to get through our days. 
  8. Choosing Kindness. Everybody is struggling with some sort of challenge. With a new appreciation for the struggles faced by so many in our lives, we chose to be more kind. Giving a little. Overlooking faults. Offering words of encouragement. Choosing to be on the same side and working together.
  9. Expressing Gratitude. 2020 reminded us that there is still much to be grateful for. Health care workers. Firefighters and first responders. Teachers. Compassionate, servant leaders. Grocery and pharmacy workers. Sunshine. Fresh air. Technology. Food. Loved ones. When we express gratitude to the people in our lives, it lifts them up. And it lifts us, too.
  10. Hope. Hope is contagious. It’s not possible in every situation or every moment. But as we learned to seek and find hope this year, it’s helped to keep us going through some of the tougher times. Hope shines a light on the future, on possibilities.

We are just days away from the winter solstice – the darkest day of each year. As the days start to get a little longer, more of the COVID-19 vaccines will make their way around the world – bringing us one step closer to the end of this pandemic. We are grateful. We are hopeful. We choose kindness.

None of us knew what 2020 would bring. Now, with gratitude and hope, all of us at Avilar wish you a lighter, brighter, healthier, happier 2021. Together.

If we can be of service to you in 2021 as you shape the skills and competencies of your workforce, please contact us. We’d love to help.



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