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The year that changed everything — and created room for anything!

By Edna Figueroa - February 5, 2021

The scale of change in our lives this year – personally and professionally – revealed the most fragile aspects of our selves. It also revealed our response to love and painand to what matters most.

While this year brought its share of disappointments, it also gave us gifts we did not expect (I was surprised and grateful to be named one of the Top 20 Executive Coaches in Washington!). As we return to some kind of normalcy, we also should consider the aspects of our Covid-era lives we want to preserve. For me, that means: saying “yes”; compassion; and a new understanding of courage and faith.

Perhaps 2020 was the year the world became more connected, exposing a much broader system of possibilities and dreams. But how we responded to this monumental change will leave an important record in our hearts. I’m winding down 2020 reflecting on some of the key themes I explored in my coaching practice. We can harness the inherent power within these themes to shape a radical response in our lives with the potential to bring restorative change to anything we touch in 2021.

Key Themes for 2021

Ø Stay in the journey 

The key point being, it is journey! We know that it is going to be a long journey. There are going to be ups and downs, and unexpected changes to your plans. Be persistent, even in the face of setbacks. And remember – you need to practice both resilience and self-care.

Ø Be Intentional

Many of us realized this year that we have spent too much time just going along with things that didn’t really suit us. For me, it brought to mind this anonymous quote: “Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” But within this struggle, we found the time to reassess what matters most, and what we’re willing to do to achieve it.

The good news is you can change the direction you’re traveling, and point yourself – intentionally – on the path that will bring you more of what you want.

Ø Rewire your automatic responses to change

You cannot remain the same in a world that is different. Now is the time to embrace new qualities that create something more empowering in your life. Your automatic tendencies likely will not serve you well going forward. Remember that it is “one system” – the integration of the personal and professional – that reveals the best places to create impact. A new year is the perfect time to uncover the strength and curiosity to achieve these new possibilities. This exploration can shape a radical and restorative response to the tumult we all have experienced recently.

Insights for Success

Here are some insights that emerged from coaching clients during the most dramatic transitions in their lives. Their efforts to create greatness in their lives inspired me. It was a privilege to see them bring out new qualities to navigate through these moments of change and uncertainty, and create what is next. Despite everything, they never gave up. You also can learn from the steps they took to achieve success.

·        Tap into what drives you. One question I always ask of my clients, that often changes the direction of our engagement, is: “What matters the most to you now?” In times of crisis and change, you need to focus not only on what motivates you (hint: it is not always money), but what must be done to fulfill what is next.

Most times, the energy was on finding clarity, declaring new commitments for creating more balance in life, and casting a wide net to achieve new goals. What also became clear was people’s desire to create mastery in their game to better match the new purposes that had emerged from the crisis. Knowing our motivations allows us to become a powerful correspondent to our greatest strengths and engagement.

·        Believe that from every breakdown there is a breakthrough. We have seen the most amazing innovations in society. In the obvious example, the historic change to flexible working styles altered our relationship with time. One my favorite reads this year, from The Economist, was the story of the invention of the clock more than two hundred years ago (see Countering the Tyranny of the Clock). No longer is our best imagination and motivation restricted to a 9:00 am – 5:00 pm schedule.

·        Redefine Success. Choosing vulnerability allows us to embrace new commitments and purposes, and find room to grow. My clients’ shift and desire to create life from a place of discovery and learning, spurred them to create their best work –all over again.

·        Tell your story of success to create a meaningful conversation that lasts a lifetime. The power of sharing your story of achievements ultimately is the most effective way to get others engaged in your promise to create value. Many of my clients attracted lucrative job offers while in the worst employment marketplace in recent memory. They did it by embracing the power of storytelling.

Telling our stories is powerful. It builds connection, boosts our confidence, and can create change, As Steve Jobs once said: “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation to come.” Now is the time to share your success story for 2021 and beyond.

Despite its challenges, I will remember 2020 as a special year. I was inspired by the work of dreamers and innovators who created the most amazing examples of restorative response, when humankind needed it the most. That includes both the COVID vaccine, and the thousands of spontaneous human acts of kindness and support that helped us get through our pandemic year.

One final note: As many college students went home to their parents, I got to spend the last six months with my son, and more time with my daughter. A gift that was not expected!

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