I’m moved as I write this Leading Thoughts. It is the last one for 2020. Many of you have shared your challenges, your losses, your growth, and your victories with me in recent months. It means a great deal. I’m proud of you and eager to see you happy, successful, whole, and doing good in the world in the years to come. So let me end this year with a series of thoughts.
First, I accidentally wrote here last week that Notre Dame was 10-1. Of course, they are 10-0. My bad. I’d love to blame it on my gifted Executive Assistant, Karen Montgomery, who edits all of these Leading Thoughts, but when I tried to blame her she let me know with a smile that Notre Dame’s record isn’t something she plans to keep up with. But she’s a Virginia Tech fan. What does she know?
Second, I’m watching the Army / Navy Game as I write this. It’s a tradition in my home. I have and have had friends at both schools. I’ve also guest lectured at both schools. So, I love the tradition, the character, and the meaning for our country.
When I spoke at these academies, I challenged the cadets and midshipmen not to let attending one of these wonderful schools be the most important thing they ever do. It is possible. They might get an appointment to an academy, graduate, and then lead a common, self-absorbed life afterward. I’ve seen it happen. So, I urged them to do otherwise.
I urge the same upon you. You’ve had your victories. You’ve certainly had your challenges this year. You will continue to rise. Don’t allow some long past victory or achievement to be the most important thing you do in your life. Build upon your past but surmount your previous victories and create a legacy—a series of great deeds—that makes a difference in the world.
Third, the book I’m most recommending this year is Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. It’s about Churchill and his family during one year of World War II. It’s a leadership study wrapped in a fascinating piece of history that includes a family saga. Really good stuff. A New York Times bestseller with heart and passion.
Fourth and finally, I’ve been saying all year that good days are ahead. They are. Vaccinations for Covid 19 are shipping as I write these words and we will soon be past the worst of this pandemic. Then the rebuilding will begin. Your leadership will be more needed than ever—in your firm, in your family, in our society. Get ready for some years that might be your toughest but also will likely be remembered as your finest hour. I’ll be encouraging you and coaching you all the way.
Here is what I urge you to do for now. Rest over the holidays. Shut down as much as you can. Go for walks. Hold babies. Turn off the devices. Let the traditions touch tender places in your soul. Eat, drink, sing, remember, give, serve and, most of all, revel in the meaning of it all. This year has taken a toll. It’s okay—in fact, it’s essential—that you take some weeks to rest and renew, to re-create and restore.
I’m proud of you and grateful for you. I’m following my own advice and taking some time off, but I’ll come back to you the first week of January with more Leading Thoughts. For now, Merry Christmas, and may 2021 be your best year yet.