Hope Springs Eternal

2020 was a terrible year on so many fronts. I won’t rhyme off the litany of things that made the past year so heartbreaking — we are all too familiar with those items. Surely there were some good events we experienced individually or as a collective, sadly in most cases, those good moments will forever be overshadowed.

Many of us are going into the New Year with a mindset of hope and optimism. While Covid-19 is still causing despair, the early days of the vaccine’s distribution show promise. But, we cannot simply hope for a better year. We will need to work at it. Many will be feeling the effects of the past year for a lifetime — whether physically or mentally. It has been a trying time.

Some of the more gratifying images during the past year have been of friends and strangers going out of their way to be there for their fellow neighbour: Passionate support for frontline workers and our seniors in need of care, communities rallying to support small businesses and restaurants who are fighting the battle of their lives, all images that will certainly last with me for a lifetime.

It is especially heartening to see such actions in a time when there seems to be more vitriol and hate on social media and at protests.

The continued progression of social media has given rise to increasingly negative and hurtful debate. The abandonment of truth and logic as the cornerstone of critical dialogue, replaced with the emergence of opinions being presented as fact and name calling. Sadly this is fast becoming the new normal in political discourse.

We must do better as a society as we move into 2021.

Our focus needs to be helping those facing difficulties and challenges, this is a collective responsibility that we must all shoulder. The events of 2020 will not define us, however, the way in which we transition from our annus horribilis and how we choose to reset as a society will be how history views our generation.

“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lower ones.” — Nelson Mandela

Our respective governments and the broader citizenry have a responsibility to ensure we ensure that nobody is left behind. We must be reminded that nobody chooses a life of despair and poverty. Those things are thrust on them, whether through misfortune or systematic barriers. We must do a better job of having empathy for a persons situation. Empathy is one of the most powerful of emotions. It is often a catalyst for action for those that are driven to help.

Let us all embody the practice of servant leadership as we embark on this New Year. The simple act of a turn of a page on a calendar can have a powerful impact in our lives. It is an opportunity to reset, to set goals, to right wrongs.

In business, we are often reminded that ‘hope is not a strategy’. But, we can all take actions — both small and large, that will ensure hope and optimism are not just aspirational but become fulfilled.

Let us all commit to taking such actions and ensure that we fulfill the promise of hope and optimism.

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Chris Emanuel

Chris Emanuel

A business leader who has driven organizational change. A former politician (still recovering) who likes to comment on business, politics and society