2023 In The Rearview: Was It Good or Not?

Written by Darren Kanthal

January 16, 2024

Cheers from Oktoberfest in the Lowenbrau Tent

2023 – who’s to say if mine was good or bad?

I share that line from the Stallion Story. Do you know it? If not, the main essence is that whether we deem something good or bad is all a matter of perspective. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Interested? Read It Here:

The Stallion Story…

And old farmer lives on his farm with his teenage son. He also has a beautiful stallion that he lovingly cares for.

The farmer enters his stallion into the annual country fair competition. His stallion wins first prize. The farmer’s neighbors gather to congratulate him on this great win. He calmly says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” Puzzled by this reaction, the neighbors go away.

The next week, some thieves who heard about the stallion’s increased value steal the horse. When the neighbors come to commiserate with the farmer, they find him again very calm and gathered. He says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”

Several days later, the spirited stallion escapes from the thieves and finds his way back to the farm, bringing with him a few wild mares he has befriended along the way. To his neighbors’ excited rounds of congratulations, the old farmer once again says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”

A few weeks later, the farmer’s son is thrown off one of these new mares as he is trying to break it in, and his leg is fractured. As the neighbors gather to commiserate with the old farmer, he once again reminds them, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”

The following week, the imperial army marches through the village, conscripting all eligible young men for the war that has just broken out. The old farmer’s son is spared due to his fractured leg. The neighbors no longer bother to come to the old farmer to congratulate him. By now they know what his response will be: “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”

The lesson in the story is, of course, that sometimes it’s hard to know if something is good or bad, fortunate or unfortunate, lucky or unlucky until we have the gift of hindsight – and the future has, in essence, answered the question – what is good or bad?

In the moment things are happening….

If we think it’s good – it is.

If we think it’s bad – it is.

To that end, I’ve been delaying the writing of this blog, feeling as though I had to answer the question – was 2023 a good or bad year?

And quite frankly – I simply can’t. Or maybe the answer is it was both, which I guess if we average it out – that means it was OK?

I dunno – but I’ll reflect on this writing and see where I end up. As always, I’d love your thoughts and welcome your replies, feedback, and insight.

Reviewing The Year

Family volunteered with Project Angel Heart

When I first started looking back on my year, I felt it was a bit topsy-turvy. The first half of the year felt like my personal life was better, and my business was limping. Although I can’t tell you exactly what was better about my personal life, I can certainly reflect back to a slow start to business.

It seemed the well was rather dry — conversations weren’t being initiated with the fervor they were in 2022, and if the first 6 months of 2023 remained constant – it would have been a middle-of-the-pack year revenue-wise.

Then, around the summertime – things reversed themselves. My personal life had some stress and unresolved strife. And on the other hand – business picked up.

What to make of that? Hmmm – maybe that’s just what life was like for me in 2023.

What I Was Grateful For

Couple doing a Barcelona Trip

With that being said – there was much to be grateful for.

I have a great group of family and friends filled with lots of love and support.

I enjoy my profession and partnering with many great people – clients, business partners, colleagues, and vendors.

I traveled! My trip to Europe was outstanding (you can read about the trip and my life’s lessons if you’d like here)

I met my exercise goal (an average of 21 days per month) – in fact, I crushed that goal!!…. and interestingly enough, my body composition goal fell short (body fat and muscle mass barely moved).

Mountain Bike Ride in Park City

I didn’t achieve my 5th year in a row of YoY growth…..and yet I greatly exceeded my 2021 revenue (2022 was a record year for me).

For any of you who are a former career coaching client, you know about my Job Seeker 6. I’ve been wanting to make it an evergreen and self-paced program – with the goal of having it launched by now. Even though I made great strides and also coached many great people to their new roles this past year, the course is nowhere near ready for launch. Not even a module is ready for beta testing!

My focus on networking with purpose (not entirely and with a singular-minded focus on attracting referral partners) was a great success. I joined a networking group and have some new friends and colleagues. For those that don’t know – I like being familiar with people and having history (kinda like Norm from Cheers). My focus on networking brought me back in contact with former colleagues and bosses – along with new people I’m excited to get to know even better in 2024

A group of friends on a mountain hike

All of the above shows the ups and downs, pros and cons of my year. Did I meet my goals? Did I not? I’m literally laughing as I write this because I’m not sure. What do you think?

Lastly, I ended the year being fully hijacked by my Judge – I could NOT for the life of me stop the swirling, repetitive nature of my negative internal narrative. I was moody. I didn’t show up as my true self. It sucked!

A Good Start in 2024

To break the cycle, I started 2024 by embracing one of my goals to “Embrace the Woo.” Many people I trust fully believe in energy work and the like. Although for years I have my own evidence of the same – I’d remained a skeptic. But no longer (at least for now 😊) – on Jan 2nd, I saw my energy worker named James. And go figure – I instantly felt better.

2024 goals are off to a good start!

As with many new years in the past, I enjoy the ceremony of ringing in the New Year – and I enjoy making new goals. A good friend called the New Year ‘new beginnings’. I hadn’t thought about it that way – but I like it! After the topsy-turvy nature of 2023 – I’m happy to begin anew in 2024 and see what life has in store for me.

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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