January has been traditionally a very important month in human history. Following the winter solstice in December that has been marked by the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun, the gradual waning of daylight hours in January represent a new fresh start. But every fresh start needs to have be enrichened by learnings of the past. Even the origin of the month’s name “January” is highlighting this fact by being named for the Roman God Janus, protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future.
Named for Janus, every January is also the perfect period for reflection. Yes, Janus had two faces so he could see the future and the past. I intentionally spend the first weekend of January on reflection to better look forward: What do I bring in my bag from 2021 to 2022 by looking back and forward? This year, I came up with 4 Rs : Risk & Resilience and Relevance & Reinvention
Let me get started with Risk & Resilience. 2021 has taught me that some risks are very real and they might come up suddenly and all together. I had never thought that I will be having car accident by crashing into barriers with 150km/h when my daughter and son were in the car. (luckily nothing happened other than the huge fear I never experienced before). I never thought my parents will start to have very significant health issues. It was something I never thought that there will be a weekend that my mom will be in the ICU of one hospital due to Covid whilst at the same day I had to bring my dad into ICU of another hospital because he had fallen down when he was walking. I never thought that my mom would stay in ICU for 10 days even though she was vaccinated. I never had thought that my dad would need a brain operation and we were told that he will be back at home in 3 days and it took him almost 4 weeks to come back to home after 3 brain operations in that short period of time. I never thought that all these will just happen in a 3 month period-they happened, one after another. And they had all happened when I had started to in a new role in my company when things were extremely busy. Now all of them are over ( except my dad’s situation which is stable but still worse compared to couple of years ago), but I have lots of learnings who shaped me heavily looking forward: Risk is real and they might realize at very unexpected times in very unexpected fashion. You need to learn to stay strong, strong in ways you never thought you need to be. Resilient as you never thought to be. Whether the family in personal setting or as a leader in business setting; when things go wrong, it is our responsibility to stand up, energize ourselves and help people around us to survive the storm. None of us like tough times but tough times create strong leaders.
Let me talk about Relevance & Reinvention too. The first part were about things I never expected to happen. But there are so many things which are happening & building slowly at first but becoming bigger and bigger like a snowball. And many people ignore them or postpone even though seeing that they are coming. Think about Climate Change, think about Human & Machines in the age of AI, think about macroeconomic evolution, think about advances in Technology, think about Genomics, Quantum Computing, changes in Workplace, new skilling, education systems and you can count more and more. So the question is not whether these are going to happen, yes they will definitely happen. The question is how we are going to shape them and lead them. Let's stop asking what the future will bring, as if somebody else is going to make it. We make the future. It is not made by someone else. We decide our future every day, by action and by inaction. The key question is "What do we want our future to be?" We need to embrace future mindset and get being comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to think unusual. And this is how we are going to find the key to the future . And this is my second main takeaway from 2021 to 2022. In order to stay relevant, we need to keep renew and reinvent ourselves.
2021 was not an easy year. But it was a year that shaped me a lot who I am. And I am going into 2022 with all those learnings. I feel strong, reenergized and reinvented. Both in personal and professional life. Look like Janus, look the past, learn from it and look forward. January is the great period for that.