Haere Ra 2020!
A year of the highest highs, and the lowest lows, often in the same moment.
We celebrated Rob’s wedding, with joy that he and Jenna were finally tying the knot and getting on with their lives. And with sadness that we (and others they love) could not be there to celebrate with them.
A socially distanced wedding in a London registry office, with the NZ whanau watching on Zoom in their pyjamas at 3am, will certainly be a story for their grandchildren!
We celebrated by getting all dressed up the next evening in our wedding outfits that should have been worn in Greece, to drink champagne and Zoom in to Rob & Jenna’s first morning as a married couple.
Speaking of future generations, we truly celebrated the news that a new grandchild, currently nicknamed “Bob the Baby” is on the way in London, and are looking forward (with caution) to visiting London soon after his birth in March.
We celebrated Pip’s fabulous new job, while lamenting the lost opportunity in her previous role that held so much hope and promise. She’s now working for Amazon Web Services, which she refers to as the “biggest startup in the world”.
We celebrated that Howard continues to make a difference for disadvantaged children, through his role at Kids Can, the charity that provides shoes, raincoats and breakfasts to low decile schools around the country.
We celebrated Pip’s recovery (mostly) from Covid-19, acquired on a business trip to Washington DC so early in the year that NZ was not yet testing anyone who hadn’t been in China! We celebrated that she managed not to infect anyone else, on the plane back to NZ, and at home – but continue to lament the long term effects on her health.
We celebrated both Pip & Howard, and Rob & Jenna buying and moving into new homes later in the year – and look forward to actually seeing the London property in 2021!
We celebrated that our two gorgeous grandchildren here in Auckland took to distance learning like ducks to water, not only ploughing through their school work while mummy and daddy worked around their dining room table, but making time in their daily schedule for grandparent checkins while we were all in lockdown. Their efforts this year were rewarded with academic prizes for both at end of year school prizegivings.
We celebrated their musical talent, with family concerts on Zoom – they definitely don’t get that talent from our side of the family! Guitars, ukuleles, flute, piano, and beautiful singing… wow!
We celebrated that the companies that Peter and I work with have mostly survived, and that some have even thrived. We celebrated the people in those teams that were willing to give it their all, despite paycuts, working from home and often precarious situations, to fight for those businesses to survive.
We celebrated the founders and entrepreneurs who continued to innovate, and perhaps more so than ever, and the investors who wrote cheques to fund some of those startups, despite the dire situations around them.
We celebrated that science is suddenly “fashionable”, and that the public is perhaps starting to understand that it is indeed the only thing that will genuinely change the world.
We celebrated Christmas – that grinchy virus couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, after all! It was smaller, more contained, and sadder than usual as we reflected on those we love who were having even smaller Christmases than us, in far flung places.
Mostly we celebrate that we have survived – not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and economically – to fight another round. My great grandmother, the original “Ouma” in our family, used to say that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger – I think this is what she, who lived through both world wars, was talking about!
So lest you think I’ve lost my mind, with all this celebration, on a more serious note, 2020 was also a year of discoveries, about others, and about ourselves. I wrote this during our first lockdown, and I think it’s still as true as it was then…
“Lockdown”… In which I discovered that…
- Circumstances do not make people (and companies) good or bad – they simple magnify their goodness, and their badness.
- The people that I treasure as my very best best friends are so very different from me that it’s a wonder we even found each other, let alone that we want to be with each other.
- Family is, was and always will be my absolute number one most important thing of all.
- How it’s possible to die of a broken heart – that pain that comes from the emptiness inside of knowing that you simply don’t know when you will even be able to see and hug and enjoy the company of one so very dear to you that it simply breaks your heart.
- Manaakitanga is that thing that defines me – without the ability to offer hospitality to others, friends, family whanau, I simply have no purpose in my life.
- In business, in teams, in companies… culture is laid bare for all to see only in a crisis
how we act, how we treat each other is the most visible and palpable evidence of the cultures we have built in our teams in and in our businesses.
- People are (mostly) good and kind.
- People are (mostly) incredibly naïve, stupid and out of touch with the reality of how the economy works, and what it takes to create jobs, incomes and prosperity in our society (and this does not make them bad people, just stupid and/or naïve and/or poorly informed).
- Fear is a super-effective motivator… you can get people to follow the great leader with exactly the right mix of fear and adoration.
- No one (at least in New Zealand) wants to buy into a strategy that includes “Granny will die” as an outcome… thus, people are inherently good and compassionate (but/and happy to sacrifice jobs and the economy to save Granny).
- Pressure makes people mean… an inherent belief that suffering should be shared means that those who could / should be benefiting, growing new jobs and new revenue streams from the crisis, are pilloried for “taking advantage” of the situation – when in fact everyone is just doing what they can to save their businesses so that they can keep paying their people and feed their kids!
I also discovered that, although we say “it’s okay to say you’re not okay”… the reality is that when you do that, the people around you are most likely to remind you of all the others who have much more reason than you to not be okay. They think that’s helpful, that it will make you feel better, by reminding you how lucky you are. (And indeed, you are… lucky that is).
Thereby invalidating your feelings, and making you feel like a bad person for having those feelings.
Which is definitely NOT OKAY!
So as we head into 2021, that’s my biggest wish. That if you are not okay, you feel empowered to say so, and that those around you understand enough to support you, even if they can’t fix anything at all!
Go well, stay well… and celebrate the small things in life, as well as the big ones.
Here’s to many more celebrations in 2021!