“The task of the leader is to get people from where they are to where they have not been.”
~ Henry Kissinger                             

Congratulations! You’ve made it to 2021 and the new world that it brings. What a harsh, turbulent, and intense ride it’s been to get through this past year of unexpected challenges.

2020 proved to be a year requiring extraordinary actions that would force us to expand our cherished comfort zone into unforeseen and unchartered realms ─ both individually and collectively.

In one way or another, we would have to leave our comfort zone. And we would miss the familiar times all year, wishing for them to return, thinking that any day now the world as we knew it would return to “normal.”

We wanted face-to-face everything back – our meetings, our kids in school, restaurants, festivals, concerts, travel, and especially family and friends. And actually, we wanted anything we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it, with whomever we wanted to do it with ─ we wanted it all ─ just like before.

But that was not to be in 2020.

At our core, we, as humans, crave ─ safety, stability, predictability. And they didn’t exist… and still don’t. We love our comfort zone. It’s comfortable, no surprises you can’t handle, no challenges that completely derail you from your chosen path. We begin to live within that familiar, safe, predictable, beautiful place where it is said, “nothing ever grows.”

Roy Bennett said:  “Real change is difficult at the beginning, but gorgeous at the end. Change begins the moment you get the courage and step outside your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Yes, change is painful. We want to grow and develop, but we don’t want it to hurt. And 2020 hurt us. We felt like wounded children, like after 9/11 when the world as we knew it crumbled right before us.

But somehow, in forcing each of us out of our comfort zone, we made it through 2020 and are stronger leaders than this time last year.

Your comfort zone is a little wider now… you braved some new paths and are better prepared than before.  You’re better able to lead amidst chaos and the unknown. You probably know yourself and those around you better after a year of challenges and creative solutions. You’re a better leader and stronger person than before you were forced to grow and change so dramatically and so quickly.

Celebrate the qualities you needed to survive ─ and thrive ─ as a leader and a person ─ in 2020.

“Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end… because in the end, it shows you a whole new world.” ─ Manoj Arora

Your leadership begins outside your comfort zone… and you showed that in 2020.

So, here’s to the enhanced qualities you’ve gained that will catapult you into a better future. Just think:

You’ve been brave. You’ve taken risks with uncertain outcomes.

You’ve been innovative. You’ve challenged yourself and others to go beyond the old ways of thinking, working, doing, and being.

You’ve been resilient ─ that precious quality that enables you to bounce back, adapt, survive, flourish, and thrive.

You’ve demonstrated managerial agility. 2020 indeed must have been the poster child example for this as “Standard Operating Procedures” went out the window.

Start this year acknowledging how good you really are and the new and enhanced strengths you bring into 2021. No matter how little or how far you had to go outside your comfort zone to get through 2020, you now carry with you new courage and the seeds of opportunity to grow a new year like no other.

When our comfort zone increases, we become better leaders, and the quality of our life grows. You’ve boldly broken through the boundaries of mediocrity and routine and moved into the unchartered territories where growth, innovation, and new worlds manifest.

Celebrate you… and a new vision for your leadership in 2021!