What a year. It is hard to comprehend all that has happened personally and globally in the past 12 months. I’ve experienced some encouraging career success and some painful physical injuries that led to months of slow recovery. I’ve had friends and family members die and seen wonderful growth for others close to me. The world has been devastated by a global pandemic and the country has been rocked by the start of a new civil rights movement. I’ve read some great books and listened to some inspiring podcasts, and I’ve watched way too much TV and been unable for most of the year to go and see a movie or play. I’ve been saying it for years and 2020 has shown it to be an accurate assessment of life: In truth it’s not that simple.
As this year ends I want to take a few minutes to reflect back on three elements of 2020 that I am happy and grateful for. Later this week I’ll post about three themes for me heading into 2021.
First I’ll start with a professional accomplishment that feels very satisfying from 2020. Our product team made a decision that year to focus on outcome over output; in all of our development efforts we asked how the enhancement or activity would impact users rather than simply trying to roll out as much new functionality as we could. This was a great motivator for our team (dovetailing well with my year-long goal of empowering and encouraging my team as much as possible) and allowed us to respond successfully to the massive shift that happened in March when we suddenly left our offices and began working remotely for the rest of the year. Whether partnering with our marketing and sales teams to effectively rollout new features, collaborating with our client success team to train users on new functionality and get their feedback on our product, or working with designers and testers to ensure what we built would deliver the value or customers needed, we focused on the business outcome of all we developed – for our clients and our company. This has been clearly beneficial in a chaotic year and I expect this mindset will continue to drive how we work going forward.
A second theme for me in 2020 that has fostered both personal and professional growth has been actively seeking out and listening to a wider array of voices. This has involved reading several good books, listening to a number of great podcasts, and attending some virtual conferences. It also led me to seek time with a broader set of my colleagues at work. I’ve shared much of what I learned from these sources in this blog, mainly in the several months at the start of working from home when I blogged here weekly (check earlier posts from March-August of 2020 if you’re interested). I have been grateful for the things I have learned seeking out broader input to my work and my personal development, and i look forward to more of this in the coming year.
A third area of growth and gratitude from 2020 has been the relationships I have formed and deepened this year. Spending so much of the year physically separated from friends and colleagues has been challenging in spite of my introverted tendencies and so I am particularly delighted by the chance to see new friendships forged in these trying times and older friendships deepened. Whether through unexpected time at home with grown children forced to spend semesters at home instead of at college or from lengthier video and online conversations made possible by the absence of my standard commute, I’ve been glad for the chance to cultivate deeper connections with people even when we have had fewer opportunities to physically interact.
2020 has been unusual and challenging. Life won’t simply reset to “normal” on January 1, and so even as I look back on what the past 12 months have brought I am also thinking about things I want to focus on in the new year. I’ll share some of those thoughts later this week. In the meantime I hope your own life affords you the chance to look back and look forward as the year winds down. Thank you as always for listening.