2020 Lesson 1: Light That Candle

This is the season to be grateful. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

2020. The year the world stood still… but didn’t, because life never really can stand still. It is, however, a year that will stand still in our memories for a very long time.

People died.

Economies faltered.

Businesses closed.

Jobs were lost.

Lives were permanently changed.

So many terrible things happened this year that I think we didn’t notice that good ones happened too.

About two months ago, my body decided to betray me – well, to be perfectly honest, it decided that it would no longer put up with constant physical abuse from a workaholic. It started with spasms in my right hand and eventually led to permanent pain in both hands, intermittent pain in both arms and eventually a constant dull pain in my neck, combined with back pain and headaches.

I had to bounce back and forth between a doctor, a neurophysiologist and a specialist before it was established that it was not carpal tunnel (good!) but it would take weeks of physical therapy to fix (bad).

Apparently being a workaholic with bad posture in a job that has you sitting at a computer for ten or more hours a day is bad for you. Who knew?

Whilst being poked and prodded and passed around, I was unable to type, text or use a mouse. In other words, I could not physically work.

My business means a tremendous amount to me. The inability to work at a time when I knew how badly my clients needed me was almost as painful as the spasms. It coincided with many 2020 stories from friends, family and team members. People I care deeply about, whose personal unhappiness affects me very personally. It was one of those times when the darkness seems too big and everything just seems to be far too much to carry.

To make it all better, I came down with flu (normal flu, not The Flu) at the same time. So in addition to not physically being able to do my work, I had no mental capacity to do it either. I was now sore, sick, extremely anxious and completely miserable.

But the most wonderful thing happened – my marvelous team stepped up and just took over everything for me. For the entire week that I was man-down, my business continued to function without me. I was able to let go, sleep, rest and to heal.

This whole episode has taught me so much, but the lesson I want to share right now is gratefulness.

I could have spent my man-down week worrying about everything that was out of my control. I could have listed all of my mistakes this year and fretted about them, I could have listed all the things that I and my loved ones lost.

But I feel that there has been far too much focus on the negative this year. Yes, bad things happened this year, but I want to consciously take a moment to be grateful for the good ones.

I am grateful my poor abused body lasted as long as it did.

I am immensely grateful for my team – not just that I have a team that could step up, but I am so very grateful for the willingness with which they did so.

I am grateful that I have work when so many have lost theirs.

I am grateful that I could afford the doctors.

I am grateful – oh so very grateful! – that I don’t need surgery.

I am grateful for the software and technology that made it possible for me to work without hands (here’s looking at you Siri)

I am grateful that I am able to become healthy again.

I am grateful that most of the losses suffered by loved ones this year are not permanent.

I am grateful for my friends and family.

I am grateful tor my faith.

I am grateful for the lessons I have learned.

I know that many of you have suffered loss and hardship this year. I know that for many of you, it is far, far worse than what I went through. I know that when you are going through that loss, everything seems bleak and hopeless. I know it’s very, very hard to lift your head up and keep going.

But please try and take a moment, in that darkness, to look for the tiny flickers of light. Because they will be there. Have you ever used one of those torches with an adjustable beam? When the beam is at its smallest, it is at its strongest. When you focus a light, you give it strength and focusing on gratefulness is one of the best defenses you have against that darkness. Because the more flickers of light you are grateful for, the more you will see, the stronger they will become and suddenly, the darkness is gone.

This is the season to be grateful. No matter what your personal darkness is this year, I know you will find a flicker of light if you look for it.

Originally published by our founder on LinkedIn here.

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