Reflecting on 2021

Five Things We Learned This Year

Reflecting on 2021

We admit it. This time last year we were saying good riddance to 2020 and preparing to usher in a new year that would bring a return to some semblance of normalcy. It has been a little painful to come to terms with the fact that 2021 did not bring back “the old normal.” 

As the saying goes, no pain, no gain. While there were certainly ups and downs, we believe the challenges of the year helped reinforce some important values. Here are five things we learned in 2021.

What we learned from the shift to the hybrid office: Flexibility

As work-from-anywhere became normalized in 2021, business leaders and teams had to learn to adapt. Flexibility became an imperative to maintain productivity. But flexible work arrangements demand trust. Executives and managers had to trust their coworkers were upholding their end of the bargain and communicating, collaborating and achieving results in both the remote environment and the physical office. Trust from colleagues up, down and across an organization makes employees feel valued, thus building job satisfaction and loyalty.

What we learned from the global supply chain disruption: Patience

We live in an on-demand world, and we have come to rely on getting what we want when we want it. However, early last year we began to see supply chain shortages shattering the illusion that our heart’s desire is always just one click away. We were required, by necessity, to be patient. It is good to remember why patience is a virtue. Patience allows us to consider challenges or tricky situations beyond their face value. It facilitates introspection, resourcefulness, and inventiveness. It defends against overreliance on gut reaction and supports a more empathetic approach to problem-solving. 

What we learned from the labor shortage: Creativity 

The impact of the labor shortage has been felt by all of us. As consumers we are seeing retail stores and restaurants with abbreviated hours as they are unable to staff all shifts. As business leaders we are seeing job openings go unfilled. Less predictability in the labor market is forcing creativity to keep business moving forward. Creativity is manifesting in different ways in different industries. In sectors with high numbers of low-skill jobs, organizations are using technology to fill the gaps and training workers to foster upward mobility. In some industries where highly specialized workers are retiring, companies are utilizing digital platforms and cloud-based collaboration tools to attract and develop new talent. Regardless of business type or sector, creativity helps us see things differently and better deal with uncertainty. 

What we learned from Simone Biles in the Tokyo Olympics: Agency

During the summer, Simone Biles famously, and seemingly abruptly, withdrew from the women’s gymnastics team finals and the individual all-around competition during the Olympics in Tokyo. We later learned that Ms. Biles made the decision to prioritize her mental health. In a news conference, NPR reported Ms. Biles saying, “it's OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are.” She went on to talk about how her focus was on the team overall. “I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job. And I didn't want to risk the team a medal for kind of my screwups, because they've worked way too hard for that.” At 24 years old, in the spotlight and with the world watching, Simone Biles exhibited an almost unimaginable sense of agency. In simple terms, agency refers to the ability to shape one's life. A strong sense of agency is essential to your belief that you are in control of your thoughts and actions and that you have the ability to handle whatever challenges life presents. Agency is an essential ingredient for success. 

What we learned from the billionaire space race: Aspiration

The rivalry among billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk as they have entered the space industry has prompted some eye-catching headlines. Some believe these to be wasteful acts of hubris. Others say they have sparked a wave of technological innovation in the space sector. We tend to take the 62-vertical-mile view (pun intended). These aspiring space pioneers remind us that it is important to reach for the stars. While the goals may seem lofty, these gentlemen’s desire and commitment to achieving them deserves recognition. Without aspiration, we would all be less driven toward big leaps in forward progress. 

In closing, we are grateful for these lessons of the year soon to be behind us. As 2021 comes to close, we hope you can take time to reflect as well. Happy holidays from all of us at TEN|10 Group.