As we embark on a new year — and a new decade — I’m reflecting on five things I’ve learned over the past year that will shape the way I approach my work and my life in 2020.
There is a saying that goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” So, if you were tuned in to the teachable moments last year, what did you learn? What are the most important lessons that were presented to you last year? Here are my top five.
Slow is better than fast. One of my favorite authors, the psychiatrist Gordon Livingston, says “Only bad things happen quickly. … Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behaviors, building satisfying relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.”
It’s okay to be hard on the problem as long as we are easy on the people. Personalizing problems and challenges is a sure path to frozen relationships and stalled progress. Put people above all else — or else. Optimism is contagious and so is a sour attitude. I am working hard to be in the company of positive, possibility people. They fill my tank. Don’t put up with the naysayers — critical thinking is a must, but so is aspiration. Devil’s advocates are, at their core, devils.
Live, human, meaningful connections rule the day. I almost never feel better, more energized or connected when I consume the world online. I now treat everything digital as a necessary evil — a practical requirement that should be contained and minimized. Relationships and progress are built and advanced in person.
Living in-the-now is real. Being present and not defining our lives through the past or what is to come is a real thing. And it’s the lesson that is the hardest to learn. My “monkey brain” wants to swing from vine to vine — constantly distracting me. I have become much more aware of this 21st century disease and I’m working hard to change it.
We are all works in progress. While at the end of the year we usually take stock of the things that happened to us, take a minute to figure out what your experiences taught you — and how you’ll carry those lessons going forward.
I’m grateful for each of you who read this column every month. I wish you a bright and wonderful 2020.
Don Neal is founder and CEO of marketing, strategy, and experience agency 360 Live Media.