As we enter this unusual holiday season, it’s worth a minute to look back on a year that has been both historically naughty and surprisingly quite nice.

“Naughty” 2020 … it’s painfully obvious.

2020 brought us a global pandemic with unimaginable loss of life. A global recession followed; it will no doubt linger well into 2021. A Black man’s death under the knee of a police officer triggered public outrage over racial injustice and inequities that still permeate throughout our country. Add in the most contentious and divisive presidential election in our lifetimes, historic and devastating hurricanes and wildfires and it is safe to conclude that 2020 has been about as naughty as any year in recent memory.

So, what about the “nice?”

For me, the “nice” in 2020 falls neatly into three holiday stockings, all hung by the chimney with care:

We’ve learned how to work differently.

  • Creativity flourished. Early in this pandemic, we learned that we had to be more creative or our business or brand might die. So, we innovated. According to, “Within a month’s time, creativity has not only become highly valuable, but a way to survive.”
  • Digital adoption soared. Our use of technology grew by leaps and bounds according to this McKinsey study. Two conclusions are that the biggest changes that are most likely to stay post-COVID are digitization to meet customer needs or expectations and increase in remote working and collaboration.
  • Team function flourished.This McKinsey Study highlights that teams,

We care more about each other, and our country.

  • Civic engagement on steroids. According to, 66.5% of eligible voters actually voted, a level unmatched in 100 years. In raw numbers, more than 154 million Americans voted for President. Both candidates received more votes than any single candidate in American history.
  • An “awakening” over issues of racial injustice. Difficult but necessary conversations are taking place. For sure, deep divisions still persist in our world, but we have renewed an important conversation. In this Monmouth University poll, 76% of Americans believe racial discrimination is a huge problem. CNN reports on a study concluding that 93% of the more than 10,600 protests between May 24 and August 22 were peaceful. While the problems run deep and aren’t easy to solve, the country has never been more united in identifying the issues at hand.

We’ve grown personally and professionally.

  • Achieving positive personal growth coming out of trauma is possible according to the American Psychological Association. Psychologist Richard Tedeschi, PhD shared “For some people, this [pandemic] may be a shock to their core belief system. When that’s the case, it has the potential to result in s­ignificant positive changes.”
  • Breaking through professional barriers is encouraging. From developing a new level of digital proficiency to realizing that you really can work from home and maintain healthy personal relationships, this year has been one of significant personal growth.

Caring for each other has never been more important. From checking in on elderly parents, touching base with neighbors and making sure a struggling coworker has a shoulder to lean on, whether real or virtual, we have learned to care more for each other in 2020.

Indeed, the acts of mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing are not-so-subtle indications that we care enough about those around us to change.

For me, however, the nicest thing about 2020 was my own private view into the personal lives of colleagues, clients and friends. That unexpected meeting of a child or grandchild, spouse, other family member or even a house pet made virtual connections a bit more human. All usually resulted in smiles and a special, usually unseen, personal view into someone else’s life. That alone is a very nice outcome for 2020.