For most Americans, 2009 will be a year to forget. The Great Recession took its toll. Millions lost jobs and millions more lost their health insurance. Businesses closed, families were torn apart and communities suffered.

If you were fortunate enough to survive you feel relief, but as you count your blessings you also feel sadness for those that did not fare as well. One thing for certain is that no matter how you did, there are some valuable lessons to gain from the experience. So what can we learn from this?

For one thing, we learned a lot about our survival skills. Do we have the ability to get creative in times of distress? Can we adapt to changing circumstances or have we become too rigid to change? Can we respond positively to a daunting challenge and even thrive when tested?

We also learned something about our capacity for compassion. Did our primal instinct to protect our turf take over, or did we extend a helping hand to someone in need? Even during hard times there are lots of ways to help, from volunteering at a food bank to being flexible with employees who can no longer afford childcare or health insurance. It can even be as simple as scheduling an information interview with a job seeker.

Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the past year is to never take anything for granted. Always deliver above and beyond what is expected. Make sure you consistently communicate with staff, clients, customers, contractors, patients, students, co-workers, vendors, partners, family and friends. Let them know how much you value and appreciate them.

As you look toward 2010, take some time off from worrying about what you've lost and remember to appreciate everything you have. Resolve to buy lunch for a client, drop a friend a thank-you note, forward a lead to a vendor or send a colleague a referral. Give a loved one a call and lend a hand to a stranger. Understand that in all the uncertainty the one thing you can count on is you.

Here's to a bright, happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.

Bookmark and Share