Is that a Zig or a Zag?

How many of us started 2020 with high hopes? A quick review of the top news items in the US from a year ago were not overly inspiring or hopeful, but the news did not signal the dumpster fire that was 2020. Who could have foreseen the mess that we are in now?

But wait, you ask, isn’t this post part of an optimism series. Yes. It is. Optimism isn’t about everything following a perfect plan. Optimism is about hopefulness and the belief that good things can happen.

During a phone check in yesterday, Brian and I were talking about unexpected events that happened long before we knew each other. These events did not happen at the same time, but there were some commonalities. We each found ourselves without a job and with young a young child. In my situation, people kept telling me: “You will be better off because of this experience.” I wanted to either punch them or start crying or both.

I’m not sure if me losing my job was either a zig or a zag, but it was certainly not the plan I had in place. I had taken a safe, easy, secure job so I could focus on being a new parent. Then I was unexpectedly unemployed.

Ultimately I was better off. In one month, I landed 4 job offers – and I got the final offers within the same week. This taught me a lesson I felt in my bones.

Know your value and don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth.

The difference between the lowest offer and the highest offer was enough to buy a Tesla model Y. I didn’t buy a Tesla for 2 reasons. Tesla didn’t exist in 2006 and I’m not a car geek, so I don’t spend a ton on cars.

This insight alone was worth a month of being unexpectedly unemployed. To read about something is very different than to going through it.

So how does this apply to our current situation and optimism? When I tell you: “You will be better off because of this experience.” Feel free to want to punch me or start crying (just hold off the actual punching part). Work through your process until you can see glimmers of optimism.

It is possible for the world to see a brighter future moving forward. Even if it takes half a year for a vaccine to help get COVID under control, there is hope. I also steadfastly believe that 2020 has taught many of us lessons – we just need to make space to pay attention and trust ourselves.

Agile Best Self Principle #5: Create a best self environment of motivation, trust, and support for yourself and others.

This is what optimism is all about about. Not ignoring reality. Not hiding our heads in the sand. Not hiding in our basements. It is about taking a look at the current situation and believing that there is some way to reach a good outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to put 2020 in my rearview mirror. And I know that we have a ton of work to do on all of the issues that boiled over in 2020: physical health issues, mental health issues, political issues, systemic inequality issues, etc. But I don’t want to lose what I have learned about myself, my ability to be resilient and the work that Brian and I are doing to be our best selves to enable other to be their best selves.

Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.

What have you learned about yourself in 2020? What visceral insights have you had? How do you want to apply these insights to 2021?

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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