What Do You Do in Times Like These?

One of my favourite things about 2020 was that COVID showed us what can happen when we collaborate.

In Europe the streets filled with song as people sang from their balconies, in the UK we saw the streets filled with applause for the NHS workers, and around the globe artists and musicians got together to produce unique works of art including this version of Paul Kelly’s “Who’s Going to Make the Gravy” and this version of “Memories” by One Voice Children’s Choir. These activities connected, inspired and united us, and the end result was bigger and better than any single individual or team could have ever achieved on their own. (And quick sidebar – how good are they?!? What a gift the world got!)

This is in stark contrast to those who spent this year trying to compete. Many competitive activities such as sports were cancelled, postponed or modified significantly to fit in with a changing COVID landscape. These activities isolated, disconnected and divided us. For instance, players from the NRL & AFL spent a good part of the year in a “bubble”, away from their friends and homes just to compete.

2020 has repeatedly shown the results of collaboration can be so much bigger than the sum of their individual parts. Like earlier in the year when Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters released a compilation version of the song “Times Like These” in conjunction with the BBC Live Lounge Allstars. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great song in it’s own right, but the version they released in April 2020 right at the start of the shitstorm that has been COVID is nothing but SENSATIONAL!! And the look on Dave Grohl’s face at the 2:34min mark suggests he’s pretty impressed with the collaboration as well!

So as we finish up 2020, I wanted to share with you my personal experiences with this song over the year, as it sort of sums up what 2020 has meant to me.

The first time I saw the film clip to “Times Like These” was in April, and I was so moved, I bawled my eyes out. Like proper sobbing, runny nose and ugly crying! I was in a messy place at the time, COVID had pretty much wiped out my business overnight, and I was also six months into some pretty significant personal life challenges. There was nothing left in the tank to navigate the changes that COVID brought with it. I was exhausted, scared, broken and absolutely done. And when I watched this song, as I say to my daughter “I had a lot of feelings coming out of my face!”

The second time I saw the film clip was in October and I cried again. This time a friend showed it to me because they thought it was so good. I remember sitting on their couch, trying to wipe away the tears rolling down my face before my friend saw them, so they didn’t think I was an idiot. But hearing that song again was pretty confronting. It took me straight back to April when life was super tough. All the feels that I felt in April were right there again (ready to come out of my face), and as I silently wiped away my tears, I reflected on where I had been and was grateful things had significantly improved since then.

And then the third time I saw the film clip was just over a week ago. This time I didn’t cry!
While I was still reminded of all the difficult stuff that’s happened this year, I was amazed by the lessons this year has brought, and the growth I’ve been privileged (and forced!!!) to make.

The other thing that surprised me on this third listen was that I heard three lines in the song that I hadn’t heard before. I swear they weren’t there the first two times I listened to the song… but these three lines pretty much sum up 2020 for me:

“It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again”

And so while 2020 has been as challenging as it has been unexpected, it has certainly provided the perfect platform for learning to live, give and love again. So as we say goodbye to the year that was 2020, I encourage you to think about whether you want to spend 2021 collaborating, or competing. Do you want to spend it being connected, inspired and united, or isolated, disconnected and divided?

And remember, each day is a new opportunity to choose. As Dave Grohl says:
“I’m a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight”

I think that’s a lovely way to think about 2021 – as an opportunity to bring in a brand new day with a brand new sky.

So, I wish you a very happy new year and hope you have some time to reflect on your lessons of 2020 and get the chance to set some intentions around what you want 2021 to look like for you.

Have fun!


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