January 2, 2021
2020 has arguably been the greatest disruptor of the way human beings live their daily lives since WWII. In fact, people will be writing books making analogies like this for decades to come, just like people wrote books about how humanity was changed forever after the Spanish flu, the World Wars, and after 9/11. I am not a historian and clearly will not be one of those authors, but as a Gestalt trained practitioner, I am deeply interested in systems. While the above events, and the context surrounding the events are very different, what makes the analogy hold up is the scale of the disruption. COVID 19 didn’t just impact you, your immediate household, your work place, or even just your country, it caused a full system disruption. All inhabitants of our planet have been impacted.
Human beings are resilient creatures, and they are also resistant creatures. We are significantly more adept at forming new habits and behaviors than we are at changing or eradicating existing ones. Here’s a simple example you might relate to, your clothes closet. Do you throw away an item of clothing every time you purchase a new one? Maybe, if so, good for you! Most likely, your clothes accumulate over time, and you predominantly wear items you purchased in the last 1-3 years. They are the clothes in the best condition, they fit your body in its current state, and they reflect your current personal and professional identity. You also have clothes in your closet that you have not worn for many years that reflect a past identity, that you bought for a specific event, or fit a body shape you once had. I have a closet full of ‘executive’ clothes that I bought when I became a CEO in 2018. That part of my identity ended unexpectedly in 2020 and I find that I’m not ready to donate them as they represent a recent part of who I was. Most likely, I will purge that section of my wardrobe the next time I move. A move is a large enough disruption to warrant taking a hard look at the clothes I really like, need, and wear. To make significant and lasting change in our lives, we need disruption. While the disruption is occurring, we experience discomfort, pain, and loss. But in it’s aftermath, we know and understand more, and if we act on that knowledge, we are profoundly changed. As Buddhist monk Pema Chodron so acutely said, “Having the rug pulled out from under you is a big opportunity to change your fundamental pattern”.
As we turn into 2021, I think we all understand that that we are participants in a global paradigm shift. I sense, and hear that people want that. We desperately want to look back on 2020 and say ‘If it wasn’t for COVID 19, or the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, or the wildfires in Australia and the western states, as terrible as all that was, we would never have…” Things have to be better moving forward. How do we get there? I don’t know. I’m aware this sounds trite, but how about we start with bite size chunks. Let’s start with you. Change happens one person at a time. It’s the smallest system level there is, the quietest disruptor, but perhaps the most powerful.
Everyone has a 2020 story. But it’s your 2021 story that will matter. Writing that story will take reflection, reclamation and reimagining. You’ll need to make space for it, be intentional, and gather people around you for support, and to hold you accountable. We need to do that for each other if we are going to make positive and lasting changes to the way we live our lives.
I’ve launched a coaching offering specifically designed to assist people in gathering their 2020 experiences, and using what has been learned to inform decision making for 2021 and beyond. Write YOUR 2021 story will kickstart your response to the great disruptor. Through deep listening and powerful questions, I can surface information that brings structure and action to your story. To learn more, click on the link above.
It’s going to take a long time for us to see progress on a full systems level. 2020 has brought into the light the deep rooted inequities of humanity. We can’t wait for others to make the changes for us. Start with you. Start now.