The very idea of a New Year is a figment of human imagination. Having said that, 2020 has given the idea a new shine. The world so urgently wants the new year to make life better! Perhaps, that is what all ideas ultimately are – containers and transmitters of human energies.. We are all invested in the idea and our collective belief is a powerful force in making things happen!
So, are we going to leave all behind in 2020?
What if, there is something to remember and carry forward into the new year?
On asking this question, here are a few things that emerged from the shadows of this year.
The real world and what it takes to stay alive
We now know the real world. A mortal threat made us aware of it. The real world is where life persists. The real world is where decisions and actions that help us stay alive and well are made. The last year gifted us the context within which we recognized this real world. Without this context, we were leading self-absorbed lives on autopilot or in the virtual world.
The story of civilization
For the first time, we felt that the story of civilization was writing itself through what was happening to us in our lives. We are one among the many generations that have lived on this planet – many have come in before us, many will- after. This year made us come out of our particular age and consider how people from earlier epochs struggled with existential threats. With far fewer resources and technology at their disposal. We have become aware of two intertwined facts – existential threats have always been around and human resilience is a part of our inheritance.
No developed world exists
There is no country so developed that it is unaffected by bad leadership and governance. Many leaders and administrators in the most developed nations of the world faltered in tackling an unprecedented situation. They felt they had a grip over the situation, a belief made stronger by all the resources at their disposal. Countries and leaders that were more grounded in their reality fared much better. They were pragmatic. And they spanned the spectrum from Taiwan to Mongolia to New Zealand. Development is an ongoing narrative and is less connected with external trappings of infrastructure and technology. How people reason and empathize, how they decide and respond has a bigger bearing on the outcomes.
More a Trigger-point, less of a definitive event
Contrary to popular perception, what we faced was not as unexpected. No less a person than Bill Gates spoke about this. We hardly paid attention. And now, we want to label it as an event that changed everything. Everything was stacked up in a certain way, and all that was required was a change in human consciousness. The Virtual Organization did not spring up overnight. Things were in place, to some extent. The Vaccine approval cycle did not get short instantly. The process limits were human in nature and required people saying let’s try to do things concurrently. As a species, we are using the pandemic to compel ourselves to change so that we continue the human story.
Differentiating between the Core and the periphery
Organisations round the world had to ask themselves – Which work is so vital that it cannot be allowed to suffer? They were forced to identify what is core and therefore has to be safeguarded and what is peripheral and can be compromised with. This distinction makes leaders revisit the very purpose of the organisation’s existence. It compelled enlightened leaders to ask – With the configuration of societal resources at our disposal, how can we serve society the best in a changing world? Seen in the light of this all-important questions, all other questions like – future of automation, developing of leaders, embracing of technology – seem to be peripheral to the organisation’s existence. When it comes to the crux, they fall by the wayside as they speak about instrumental means, not purposeful ends.
We live in the real world and know what it takes to keep us alive. Ours is a tiny episode in the story of civilization. Countries and leaders faltered in their response to an unprecedented situation. Those that did well were grounded in their own reality. The pandemic did not change things directly in one stroke. We changed ourselves and wherever things were ripe for change, we took the plunge. We now have the opportunity to identify the core of what we do and remain mindful of it.