It ‘s been a helluva year – 2020

Written by Darren Kanthal

December 21, 2020

One of the things I missed most in 2020 was seeing live music. Living in Denver means Red Rocks Amphitheater is in our backyard, so it’s our summer place to see concerts. This year the magnificent rocks stood mostly empty, save for a select few socially distanced shows. One of my favorite bands to see live is The Tedeschi Trucks band and I was recently taken by a line in their song “Let Me Get By”: “forget what we said last December, ‘cause it’s been a hell of a year.” As I rode my bike home from the office on a Thursday two weeks before Christmas 2020, I reflected on those words.

Just before I started to ride, I read a heartfelt and touching LinkedIn post by a young lady who was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, and nine months later was “being forced to move back to Minnesota” after losing her apartment in Arizona. I couldn’t help but think her fate must be shared with so many others who lost their jobs, homes, businesses, or loved ones. As I read her words, and thought about so many others, I was struck with deep sadness thinking how vastly different 2020 turned out than anyone’s wildest dreams.

You see, I love New Year. Nowadays it’s not the same raucous parties and getting hammered like it used to be. These days it’s spent in smaller groups of great friends and family, fewer drinks, and more talk about what we’re grateful for, our love for each other, and our hopes going into a new year.

Heading into 2020 my girlfriend and I spent time with friends in Breckenridge and around 11pm we geared up (it was frickin’ cold that night!) and skinned up Breck resort. We’d done this once before in Vail two years prior and it was amazing! As we hiked and breathed heavily, we talked about the ups and downs of the previous year, the ways we had grown, and the things we looked forward to in 2020. We talked about our individual and collective goals, the positive change we wanted to see in ourselves, our family, and our businesses. When the clock struck, we hugged and kissed, strapped in, and got our first run of 2020 down a relatively chunky, icy, and ungroomed run. Who knew that night of goal setting and gratitude would be foreshadowing for what was to come?

As part of my learnings with Positive Intelligence, we talk about the Sage perspective, which means “there are gifts and opportunities in all of life’s situations and outcomes.” There’s even a fable we tell with a poignant point: the story is about a sage old farmer who experiences tremendous highs and lows throughout the story. And his line, his perspective (the Sage perspective that is), is “who is to say what is good or what is bad?”

Before you trash me for saying this in relation to a pandemic or the many stories like the young lady from LinkedIn, think about perspective for just a moment. Perspective is truly a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we think something is good, or bad, it is so. If we think about the gifts or opportunities that come from all of life’s situations it’s also important to note those gifts aren’t always immediately or readily available. When I lost my father in 1997 to cancer, I most certainly, 100% did not say to myself “who is to say what is good or what is bad?” And I sure as hell didn’t see any gifts. Yet, as the years have gone by, I have found many gifts to come from that tragedy, and they continue to come.

As I reflect on 2020, there is much good and bad to be mindful of. Luckily for me, 2020 hasn’t brought the devastation it has to some others. If it’s come to you, my door is open to you. I welcome you to walk through it and let’s talk about how I can support you from one human to another. Every day, amidst the chaos 2020 has brought, I still fight to choose the Sage perspective and I am grateful for the many people I’ve connected with, the support I’ve received, the opportunity to work with some of you. As the world has shut down, I’m grateful for the decrease in pollution so we can see the Colorado Front Range more clearly, I’m grateful that my gym is open, that I’m healthy, that my family is healthy, that the world has a greater appreciation to the struggles and challenges of working parents. I’m grateful that I was able to mountain bike and actually go camping this summer. Most of all, I’m grateful for the many people in my life that I get to call friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues.

Regardless of where you fall on the good and bad spectrum of 2020, I hope you can find your own Sage perspective. I hope you can find the gifts in your situation. I hope you enjoy the holidays. I hope you’re hopeful for the New Year. I hope, and look forward to, our paths crossing in 2021. Much love.

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.

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