With the Holiday Season upon us, I’ve felt compelled to make note of the lessons that I’ve been forced to learn or be reminded of in 2020. Hopefully, you don’t mind me sharing them. My hope is that there are a few things on this list you’d like to check twice before this year, unlike any other, comes to a close.
1. Nothing is more important than our health. Except maybe the health of the ones we love.
2. “We” before “me” is worth heeding. Team matters, in more ways than we ever realized. We need each other and we need to help those who need it most.
3. Real leaders lead. And encourage, empathize, admit mistakes, learn and respect knowledge. And rally those who need their direction. And affection. Being proactive always beats being reactive.
4. There’s something to our history of being a lighthouse to the world. When America First becomes America the Most and leading by example becomes an afterthought, good things don’t happen. For us. Or the rest of the world.
5. Some are willing to give everything. Our health care workers. Our military. So many risk their lives to keep us safe.
6. Our economy is not all about Wall Street, not even close. It is much more certainly than hedge fund folks and positive quarterly reporting. Our country’s lifeblood is driven by the small businesses who need our support, and our patronage, now more than ever.
7. Too many fixed costs can bring down a business or a household. A little leaner is often better. This pandemic has been a very painful reminder of that to companies and households alike.
8. Slow can be good. Especially slowing down our pace on the hamster wheel so many of us have found ourselves stuck on 24/7/365.
9. Having a job is a gift. And not one any of us should ever take for granted again.
10. Little things aren’t so little. A hug. A tee-ball game. Calling your Grandma. Seeing the sunrise. Dropping by a friend’s house. Kayaking on a nearby lake. You know what I mean.
11. Runaway technology isn’t all bad. Could you have pulled this “shelter-in-place” thing off without the internet, your smartphone, or videoconferencing? It certainly would have inhibited my ability to work and to interact with loved ones.
12. Everyone deserves respect. In a pandemic, you get quickly reminded that we all are equally vulnerable and equally deserving. Too often, we forget what others are going through.
13. The little guys do really big things. Grocery workers. Farmers. Truckers. Delivery drivers. Plant workers. Many of us sheltered in place while they carried the load.
14. Teachers haven’t been coasting all these years. They’ve been dedicated to a noble profession making not-so-noble pay, changing lives when it matters most. Has it been a cake walk getting little Adam to focus on his schoolwork five hours a day?
15. Yes, you can. You can cook. You can get your teen to talk with you. You can develop a new skill. You can bike those 6 miles or read a book a week. By now, you’ve probably already discovered that.
16. Music is a rare commodity. Few things are as effective when we are most in need of mood change.
17. It’s a world economy now; everything impacts everything. We’ll all pay for dirt cheap oil in the long run. Back to that “we” again. We don’t live in a vacuum.
18. Less is often more. Less stuff often results in less stress. And bigger is rarely better. That is something we should take note of as we build our gift lists.
19. Nothing is guaranteed. Not our health. Not our wealth. Not our tomorrow.
Not that I wanted to be part of a worldwide pandemic, but I can tell you it has certainly helped bring greater clarity to my life. It’s unintentionally forced me to recenter, to refocus and to reimagine my future in ways that I might never have otherwise.
These times have filled me with an even greater appreciation of health, family and freedom. My personal hope is that what I’ve learned will truly be lifelong lessons for all of us.
Peter Ricciardi, founder, ten9eight7.com, has been a Daniel Island resident since 2003.