Happy new year! Whew . . . we made it. Here we are, finally in 2021. While today I don’t quite yet feel like I just finished a marathon, it does feel like finishing an especially arduous leg of a marathon. A little lighter, but with some work yet ahead.
I’ve been an entrepreneur now for 6 years. I can genuinely say that I’ve loved every single moment of those 6 years, even all of the moments that fell in the year 2020. Now lest you think my rose-colored glasses have totally blinded me, let’s be real: 2020 was scary for me as a business owner. I wondered many times if I could keep my team safe and intact, how to project my revenue/expenses, how to best support our clients as they struggled personally and professionally, how to be present in my work and yet still keep my family safe and healthy - I could go on and on.
Despite these scary challenges, I learned and grew as a human and as a business owner more in 2020 then I have in any other year that I can remember. Growth is generally . . . uncomfortable. However, it’s often necessary in order to rise up, reimagine and transcend limiting beliefs. To me, that growth has been the silver lining in 2020.
To that end, I wanted to share some of the most important lessons I learned in 2020 with you:
- We Set the Tone – It is our job as leaders to set the tone for the team. Hear me clearly, I’m not saying that you put on a falsely positive tone when times are hard. What I mean is this – dig deep to find your passion for the challenge at hand, and then through that passion, set the tone for the team. Your team will respond to that energy because your passion will resonate with them.
- Look Inward First – We have all been there . . . an employee does not perform, a manager quits, that perfect new hire does not turn out to be the person you thought, etc. It’s easy to place blame outside yourself, but a good leader looks inward first: How do I need to grow? What could I have done differently, maybe not even in the moment, but 6 months ago to set the tone, train or mentor?
- Relationships, Community and Connection – While I’ve left this for last, it is by far the most important lesson for me of 2020. The importance of our relationships, the community we’ve built for ourselves, our businesses, and our employees, and the connection that we have with others (professionally and personally) has never been clearer to me. My biggest professional fear during the pandemic was that without in person networking, our revenue at Stock Legal would drop off the charts. However, due to the relationships previously built, the amazing STL business community, and the strong connection we have with other people, we not only survived in 2020, but ended up finding a way to thrive. Personally, I’ve learned the importance of community and connection in lifting each other up through dark times. I would have likely stumbled more often in 2020 without the unsolicited calls, texts, emails and various check-ins from friends, family, and other business owners. So many of you knew that this was my first time navigating a crisis as a business owners, and the fact that you cared enough to reach out to me during 2020 allowed me to personally find a way to thrive. For that, I am incredibly grateful.