At the beginning of a new year, I reflect on the previous year’s successes and opportunities, and I draft a mental map of how I see the upcoming period shaping up. This year, in addition to those thoughts, I find myself in awe that we are already in 2019, the end of a decade. It seems like just yesterday when we were getting ready to start 1999. How did 20 years disappear so quickly?
I look back and smile when I think about 1999 and how we jumped into the 21st century. Back then, we were in the middle of Y2K madness, busy ensuring all systems were going to change to that magical year of 2000 and trusting we would wake up and all would be well with the world. And everything went smoothly.
So much has happened since then. Some events have left a cloud of darkness.
We’ve witnessed the horror of 9/11. We’ve struggled with mass shootings in our schools, places of worship, dance clubs and concert venues. One terrible event that shook me to the core was the kidnapping of 276 innocent Nigerian school girls in Chibok. I truly cannot comprehend the loss of lives from senseless acts of destruction to humanity.
But there was also immense greatness and advancement in connecting the world, people and businesses. Just look at the explosion of the Internet. The iPhone turned a big 10 years old in 2018, drones have become a mainstream topic of conversation, and 3-D printing is already revolutionizing the interaction between manufacturing and distribution. Sometimes all of this sounds to me as if we’re in a sci-fi movie.
As I reflect on how I envision 2019, I wish for a kinder, simpler, gentler and warmer society. How do we get there? I’ve thought of five guiding points for this new decade:
1. Keep current with what’s happening around you.
Pay attention to the media, product lines at work, technological advancements, events in your community, the political environment and even fads. Knowledge is power. You can use all the information you’ve absorbed to engage with people.
2. Communicate with all.
That goes for family members, of course, but also employees, neighbors, members of your community and even challenging individuals. Technology has given us a pass to not communicate verbally. We write emails, we text, we communicate through social media platforms, but is this really creating human engagement? I encourage everyone to have at least three meaningful conversations on a daily basis.
3. Find something positive in each day.
No matter what, there is always something nice that warms our heart and uplifts us. It could be a laugh with a friend, one kind word or something as subtle as a nod of the head that will bring a smile to your day. Those who have children will agree that nothing is as rewarding as a goodnight hug from a little one at the end of a difficult day.
4. Don’t let a bump in the road derail you from moving forward.
Use it to your advantage. If a mistake is made, move quickly to correct it. Focus on the learnings from the mistake. Then don’t be afraid to share your experience. Having the humility to recognize errors or challenges shows the human behind the professional, and that makes you a more respected leader.
5. Always get feedback.
Do people understand what you are communicating? Did you give an effective speech? Was it inspiring to the audience? Were you approachable as an employer or parent? Be open to constructive feedback.
This is not only the start of a new year, it’s also the close-out of this decade. We are positioned to have a successful and memorable 2019, so I encourage all of you to close this period with fond memories and keep working on becoming better leaders. It is because of you that families, communities and businesses soar.
Twenty years ago, we were singing the Prince song “1999”: “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.” It is now 2019, and I urge you to keep on “partying like its 1999.” I wish you happiness, joy and fun, because these elements will allow us all to be better leaders in 2019 and the years to come.
I talked about the importance of receiving feedback, so I want to start right now. I welcome your comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.