7 Qualities Essential to Surviving 2020…and Beyond
Let’s all give a rousing hallelujah that 2020 is in the rear-view. It’s a relief to close the door on a disastrous, tragic year, filled with one crisis after another. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the mother of all crises, changing so much about the way we work, the way we learn, and the way we live our day-to-day lives. How did we survive all of that?
It’s a question worth asking, because a) it ain’t over yet, and b) the qualities that helped us manage 2020 are ones we should probably hang onto. They will serve us well in the future, crisis or no crisis.
Here are seven of the most important qualities that helped us make it through possibly the worst year ever:
Creative Problem-Solving: Many of the problems we dealt with in 2020 were things we never thought about before — like how do we maintain a full-time job while also helping our kids stay focused on remote learning? — and yet, with a little creativity and lots of trial and error, we did it.
Self-Reliance: All of a sudden, many of us lost in-person contact with our support systems in 2020 — coworkers, mentors, bosses, and of course friends and family. Yes, those people were still available virtually, but it’s not exactly the same, and many of us had to flex our self-reliance muscle more this past year than we’re used to. Not every problem can be solved on our own, but it’s a great habit to think of yourself as your first, best resource.
Time Management: This was a tough one, especially for the multitudes of people new to the working-from-home drill. It’s so tempting to start watching Netflix, go down a YouTube rabbit hole, or try out the latest British Baking Show technical challenge. But the discipline required to reject temptation, and to work efficiently so those tempting things can still be part of your day later, is among the most important traits for personal and professional success.
Resilience: The hits came one after another in 2020. As individuals and as a society, we got knocked down again and again, but we kept getting back up. We learned to live with the uncertainty, with the unceasing bad news about the pandemic and the economy, with the isolation. It felt like this crisis would never end (and it still hasn’t), but still: we took care of business. We got up every day and we did what needed to be done. That’s resilience.
Critical Thinking: Think about all the critical thinking we had to do in 2020 just in terms of politics and the pandemic: evaluating sources’ credibility, making sense of complicated and sometimes contradictory information, and assessing information objectively to reach informed decisions. We got a lot of practice thinking critically, and it will pay off professionally. The ability to thoughtfully evaluate data and information is highly valued by employers and completely essential if you’re running a business.
Communication & Emotional Intelligence: Did you ever think there would come a day when you would miss in-person meetings? In a year when most professional communication was via email or Zoom, and when stress and anxiety levels tended to be higher than usual, communication skills and emotional intelligence were more important than ever. Those in leadership positions had to display unparalleled sensitivity to the ever-changing landscape their employees were navigating, being encouraging and understanding while still steering the ship. We all learned a thing or two about communicating clearly and carefully, a skill that will benefit us always.
Flexibility & Adaptability: Maybe the most important qualities that got us through 2020 were flexibility and adaptability. Just think of how quickly customer-facing businesses had to adapt to the changing requirements, developing completely new procedures almost overnight for online ordering, pickup, and delivery. Then there were the companies that pivoted to manufacture PPE for health-care workers or re-usable face masks for consumers. We all had to change the way we did things, sometimes in radical ways. We adapted, and we survived.