Learning Forward

On Friday of this week will mark the start of 2021.  It is probably fair to say many of us cannot wait to put 2020 into the books and hope for a better year.  We have dealt with things this year that our generation has never had to deal with around COVID 19.  Many things once taken for granted were missed and deeply desired.  People had to, and in many cases still are, dealing with the fear of unemployment, health concerns, loneliness and many other things too numerous to mention.  In the last two months alone, I have had COVID, broke my wrist, had wrist surgery, had a family member have a serious fall from a building and had a close friend lose his 25-year-old daughter to COVID after a two-month hard fought battle.  I feel spent!

In Mandt we teach the importance of being trauma informed.  Most of us have experienced multiple traumas just this year alone.  Some have had many incidents of trauma across their lifetime.  So how do we take what has happened and grow from it? How do we move forward afterwards while growing during?  Plus, not only how do we survive but how do we thrive?  That question has been the focus of my past week as I have thought about recent events and this past year.  Here are my three biggest take aways.

First and easily foremost, relationships matter and are necessary!  Even in a time when we cannot physically be around people as much, we can check in with them and let them know they are being thought of and that they are valued.  I have tried to call the people I care about more, text them more and increase my facetimes. While I was sick and hurting from surgery, it was so comforting to get the text messages and e-mails seeing how I was and that I was being thought about and prayed for.  Brené Brown states “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”  It should then go to reason that during times of suffering we must increase our connections.

Second, systems must be flexible enough to change but designed well enough to not collapse. I have seen this not only in our own business where we needed to be able to change the way we delivered services but also with other systems around me.  The health care system and the education system to just name a couple have done an amazing job of still providing care and services during a time of a worldwide crisis.  Through a collective effort at a federal, state and local level we have been surviving due to these systems abilities to adjust and change as necessary.  The learning these and other systems take from the past year will ultimately change the way services are delivered going forward and, in some cases, it will be improvements that would not have happened without a crisis.

Finally, we need to cling to hope for true movement forward.  Hope can take on many forms.  Hope in science to find a vaccination that will make people safer.  Hope in our leaders to navigate us through and forward past rough times.  Maybe your hope lays in a higher power that gives you peace and strength to carry on.  Hope acts as shining star that allows us to preserver while giving us direction.  Hope for better days help us navigate the ones which are not so wonderful.

The other day we had a blizzard.  Snow was blowing everywhere.  Getting back to my front door from the end of the driveway took some work.  I had to lean forward into the wind to keep from being blown backwards.  This year I have had to learn forward.  I had to point myself toward hope in a better future.  I had to remain flexible.  Finally, I had to rely on others.  It has been a year of learning and I look forward to applying that learning in the new year to come!  

Tim Geels – SVP of Instruction and Corporate Implementation

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