Not everything was bad about 2020!

06 Jan,2021


By Sanjeev Kotnala


Life is a school. And 2020 was a harsh taskmaster. There in the life school, you learnt your lessons in two types of experiences. Aapbethi; learning from Self-experience and Jagbeethi; Learning from others experience. Both powerful ways teaching you through Success, Failure, Opportunity, Crisis, Solution and Barriers. The year 2020 ensured the lessons were ingrained for life. However, as usual in schools, the most exacting teacher gets wrongly branded. Ma ybe it never had the chance to defend in the anxiety loaded world. There every experience was shared and amplified in a highly polarised way. Many years later, when the historians look back, they may list it as a narrative that was not wholly right.


When you reflect on the way we all blame the year and call it names, you realise that the year and tie space got nothing to do with it. Any other year would have been fine. The things that were wrong were the virus, which was result of human interreference with nature, the infrastructure and quality check. Poor 2020, it got branded for no fault of it.







How fast did the year taught us what Luxury is and what are the real essentials? It told us what must be priced and what is priceless. It showed us where our priorities should be centred. We realised the difference between friend and acquaintances to people who may know us. Our definition, approach and attitude towards family, friends and society at large were questioned. I hope we have learnt our lessons.





Initially, the WFH started as a mere acronym for Working from Home. A mid-year realisation happened. The running of the home is a collective responsibility. We work from home. We Work For Home.





The age-old myth that the housewife does nothing and the chief wageearner due to his role qualifies for the treatment got busted. The gender and roles merged. Family members realised what all is needed at home, what all the mother, sister, wife, daughter or son in law does. Slowly but in no small extent in the long-drawn lockdown sharing the load gradually became the norm.  





It is not about I v/s you v/s we v/s them. The threat and repercussion were highly secular and did not differentiate based on any caste, creed, race, colour, region, religion, seniority or intellect. The world realised that we are in it together. In fact, hard lessons on interdependence have been delivered time and again.





How predictably were we facing the unpredictable? We had every corner covered, and we were in control, or so we thought. We now know, of the unpredictable and probabilistic nature of life means. We know even the best plans can fail. We are better at adapting to changes. We know the importance and have started to incorporate flexibility in every aspect of life.

We have finally learnt that everything comes at a cost. That our constant playing with nature will cost us. Even with the advancements in technology, perfection is still work in process, and failure is a part of life.





Being together is an exciting way of life. The family truly lived together for a long stretch. The guards and mask dropped with time. Questioning the discipline, misunderstanding with ego in the play was a natural outcome. Charged emotions lead to learning to be patience choice of words, actions, reaction and inaction. The importance of communication was demonstrated. Hopefully, we all moved towards a more open, transparent communication style.




Life goes on. The losses are real, and we must find ways to tackle them on materialistic and emotional levels. There is still a good day or a hope of a good day. Life-death, good-bad, opportunity and crisis are cyclic. When one of them happens, it almost comes with a guarantee of the other to happen, sooner or later. These are polarities with a continuum in place. How you see them and react to them is defined by your mindset. So, you can see opportunity in crisis and crisis in an opportunity.





We all need more than accidental or medical insurance. We need emotional insurance. The insurance that comes with having, family, friends and close ones depends upon, just like we need savings for a lousy day. And the way to plan for the is really when there is no crisis.




Gone the days when the heroes wore a cape or a uniform at the border. A different set of heroes emerged. The common man, the Covid warriors, the helpers, the solution provider, saw heroes everywhere. Maybe it taught us about real compassion and empathy. Perhaps it planted the seeds of being a hero and helping others in each one of us.




At the end of it, what matters is the level of confidence and trust you have. The trust in people, processes and knowledge. How much can people trust you, your decisions, actions, reactions and inaction?


Surprises are fair, and they too are part of life. But trust is how you understand, expect, anticipate and willingly accept even the surprises. Trust need no explanation. We learnt to earn and respect trust.





Trust comes from consistent expectation and experiences. We learnt how SOP and precautions need to be adhered to. How the chain is as weak as the weakest link.




This is my favourite learning. Everything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. If the resources could be collaborative if not even centralised. The past performance is not even a yardstick to set an expectation. A vaccine in a short time. A lockdown. Trains stopped, state borders sealed. Last rites disallowed, and people accepted that. Temples, Mosque and churches closed. A common man waking up to help people they don’t even know about. Everything is possible.




We learnt the solutions may not come from old learnings and knowledge. The past is a rich source of wisdom. That we cannot change anything that has already happened. We may still be able to reduce the impact and effect, but the thing cannot be undone. So watch what we say and do, but don’t carry the baggage of past into future. Make every decision as an open-eyed conscious decision after evaluating every possible known information. And then don’t regret if it turns out to be wrong.




Materialistic attachments ate fine, you can renew them. You can replace them. However, emotional attachments and ownerships hurt. It prevents you from being flexible and adapts to the changes. Emotional baggage ground you to current status and templates. Ownership makes you resist changes. Let that ownership of an emotional win linger just for that moment and then move ahead with the learnings.





The more things change, the more they remain the same. These changes just break the template; the learning and knowledge do not fail. The process does not fail, though it may need slight correction. We need flexibility and a mindset that builds freedom to adapt and react with agility. But, when was that not the truth. 2020 only brought it in focus. There is nothing that is temper proof. Everything is developing and redefining relationships. This is a Re-World, where you have to continually research, re-evaluate, re-think, re-align and in short re-working your plans and implementation processes. We have realised the need for constant monitoring and the criticality of completing a feedback loop.





The year 2020 got highly polarised reactions. The perception building was fast and ruthless. It got so wrongly branded. And no amount of repainting efforts will change the perception. Humans are not immune to such branding and perception creation.  If you do not take conscious well throughout consistent strategic measures to brand yourself. To get the desired Brand-I perceptions. Don’t worry,  you will be branded by default.




Try finding time to Pause. Find a space for yourself and try re-living the episodes in your life in 2020. See which dots you can connect? Look at the positive side? You may have a different set of learnings. Do share if you can. I want to know what you learnt and how did the learning come around.



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