Wow! It’s Been an Interesting Year! This is What We Have Learned

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As 2022 draws to a close, I like to reflect on the year and what I have learned. I shared them on a recent podcast and thought I would share them here with you, too.

Lesson #1: You can never go back to the way things were. You can only progress into something new.

We have been waiting for things to return to normal for the past couple of years. First, there was COVID and the lockdown, then came the supply chain issues (predicated by said lockdown), labor issues, a war, rising inflation rates, and now a looming threat of recession. The future promised a return to what life was like before, “getting back to normal.”

However, as it turns out, there never was a normal. So we are not going to go back to the way things were. We are only going forward into a new version of it.

I know I have written about the new normal before, so this isn’t a total surprise. However, the underlying lesson here is that we are always moving forward into a new normal; we don’t always notice it.

We always look to the future for something great that is going to happen. Alternatively, we think everything that is bothering us now will be okay when some event occurs, e.g., the gas prices go down, the pandemic ends, or the war is over. The danger here is we forget to appreciate the present, which is the “normal” that our future selves will want to return to, and we forget that there is always something new that changes the present.

So, the lesson for business is not to expect that tomorrow will eventually be like yesterday. It will never be the way that it was. However, we learn to deal with something new. So, as soon as those problems pass, the next set will be there, ready for us to deal with them.

Lesson #2: It doesn’t work to follow a theory without a practical plan for using it.

You know I call my company Beyond Philosophy. I named it that because having a philosophy is important. However, philosophy on its own isn’t very practical. So you must take that transcendental philosophy and do something real with it.

Practical implementation is essential. Organizations should have a theory to help steer a plan, but then that theory should also drive the roll-out, the communications, the timing, and everything else associated with it. If you don’t have a detailed and practical plan, how do you expect to bring people along with you on the philosophy?

You can’t have one without the other. You can have a theory; if you do nothing, it’s a nice theory. But on the other hand, you can also go off and do something willy-nilly, but if it is in the context of nothing, it lacks strategy. So you’ve got to do both of those things.

However, it is essential to have balance. Some organizations over-apply their theories. They fall in love while observing someone or a company who’s done something and say, “Oh, well, Steve Jobs did this.” or “Warren Buffett did that, and I’m going to do that too.” However, those organizations don’t appreciate all the differences between Apple and 1996 versus now, or Warren Buffett investing in the eighties versus now. Those differences are critical to the results you can expect.

The same goes for Customer Experience. Many organizations have decided to improve their experience but have failed because of implementation. That’s where the hard work happens.

Lesson #3: Keep trying new things and learning new skills.

It’s empowering to learn something new. It stretches us in many exciting directions. An essential part of success in life is developing new skills, pushing ourselves, and reading new things.

When you broaden your horizons, it stimulates new ideas or creates space for new ideas. Surprisingly, you get the best ideas about work when you relax and get away from work. Also, learning new things balances and grounds us in a way that makes us more resilient and better able to respond to challenges.

Many of you might know that I enjoy fishing. However, I have also taken up the guitar in the past couple of years. I find that the introduction of music into my life has significantly impacted my thinking. Plus, it enables a new approach to learning that I haven’t explored before and makes a difference in my perspective. If I had only carried on fishing like I always have, I might not have had those same benefits.

Lesson #4: Remember, history repeats itself, so don’t forget your acquired skills.

As you are well aware, the world has problems with inflation and rising interest rates. However, this situation has happened before; it was a long time ago, but it happened before. However, few people are prepared to deal with it.

For example, when I was a kid, inflation in the UK was 25 percent, and interest rates were 17 percent. It was in these conditions that I purchased my first flat.

Now, today, my kids have mortgages. So, as the interest rates rise, they are concerned about it, naturally. However, they don’t know how to plan for it. So, I have been harping on them to prepare for these fluctuations and doing it now because I think it will only go up from here.

The Great Depression in the states had an impact on an entire generation. The people that survived it had a different relationship with money. For generations since, there hasn’t been that kind of event. The financial habits of people today are vastly different from those of people who lived through the depression.

These lessons we learn every year, or even just this past year, make an impact. They help form our opinions and our perspectives. They give a voice to our thoughts and a story we use to convey them. The lessons we learn and the skills we gain from them are the value. You might have heard it’s not the destination; it’s the journey that counts. The journey is where we learn, and the skills are what we get to keep, along with the memories. And you know how much I love memories.

I hope this past year has brought you some excellent and valuable skills. I hope you gain even more helpful ones in the new year. In addition, I appreciate how you have come along on this journey this year with me. I hope that we can continue to journey together in 2023.

If you have a business problem that you would like some help with, contact me on LinkedIn or submit your pickle here. We would be glad to hear from you and help you with your challenges.

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