Whenever we want to understate or downplay an injury in our house – and with 3 kids we have had our plenty – we say with a smile, “Well, that’ll leave a mark.”
But when I think of 2020, and the marks it’s left on me, there isn’t much humor, not much to downplay and no degree of overstatement in the impact this year has had. I don’t know where to begin counting the blows delivered, the sprains and breaks and cuts. My friend Tim calls 2020 the “Year of Scars.”
I have spent most of my time in the last ten months Zooming every day, some days with dozens of people, most days centered on what the F**K! is going on, with varying degrees of shock, of despair, with deep breaths and long sighs and a sense of resolve to walk it off. Don’t know about you, but I intend to have a ceremonial 2020 bonfire in the backyard that burns this year to ash. A BIG fire. A Tom Hanks “Castaway” kind of fire.
And when I’ve exhausted all the combustibles, when the fire has died down, I want to gaze for a while at the embers, and run my fingers across the marks 2020 left on me.
I think I’ll touch on my good fortune. I didn’t get IT. Nor did the loves of my life. My wife’s 97-year old Dad tested positive and son-of-a-bitch survived! We dodged our fair share of bullets – shopping Costco on a Saturday, playing in soccer tourneys out of state, washing our hands maybe 60-70% of the time we should have.
My ventures were on the lucky side of the ledger. We were well-positioned, and where necessary we adjusted and our changes worked. Our value proposition didn’t really change, but our ability to exceed it, to contribute more than we ever had, was easy.
On the whole, my network has been lucky, too, and you know it. I’ve heard you say grace out loud. In the vast majority, you’re still employed, virus-free, alert but secure. You’re more than here.
As the year has progressed, we’ve all grown more aware. I’ve met no one who luxuriates in their good fortune, who feels they were owed. On the contrary, I hear people talking about what they owe.
I see all of us ever more engaged in giving back, paying forward, stepping up. Self-interest seems satisfied with the Maslow’s basic needs, while an interest in others grows beyond one’s own people. We’re volunteering, donating, engaging in advocacy, speaking up – to much is given, much is expected.
And in my professional network, at least, there’s been ever-growing focus on those who haven’t been lucky at all in 2020 – the Small Businesses, especially the minority-owned Small Businesses and the severely handicapped categories (restaurants!) and the hot spots. We’re awaking to the reality that those suffering are not just Customers, and we’re not just Sellers. We’re symbiotic partners at the heart of our economy, and it’s time for us to meet their moment.
I’ve seen a shift in our center of gravity – from the sale to the customer, from the product to the help, from the price-offered to the value-delivered. Most of all, our devotion is shifting from the bottom line to the front line. It only took the Year from Hell.
The marks that 2020 has left on me? I’m lucky. I’m more aware. I have work to do.
I’ll wear them gladly.