Wednesday, 23 December 2020

My Word of the Year 2020

At this time of year, I usually try to choose a meaningful word that somehow captures the past year. This year of course has been unlike any other in living memory, so a whole bunch of words came flooding into my mind. I expect it is the same for all of us. But one word for me kept coming up again and again... 

This was to be a big year for opticians who not only wanted to remind people about '20/20' vision (with associated business promotion activities!) but also many British ophthalmologists (I am told) had weddings booked for the 6th of June as well. This is because 6/6 is the UK equivalent of 20/20 vision. (Explanation here) So being married on 6/6/2020 was the dream of many. This was sadly dashed for many due to the pandemic lockdown rules. 

Hence the word that I keep coming back to, linked to our sight and vision is, of course:

Foresight

This is my chosen word for 2020. 

Foresight is a most valuable commodity in relatively short supply it seems. Although, it must be said, many countries around the world appear to have been blessed with leaders who managed to mine far greater quantities of it than ours did! 

But where does it come from? How can we all develop more of it in ourselves? From observing and learning about the world leaders who appear to have had lots of foresight, it would seem to me that there are several potent ingredients. 

Leaders who wish to have plenty of foresight need to:

  • Be humble in the face of science 
  • Listen (really listen) to professional advisers who know lots
  • Practise reflective and honest hindsight, and learn from past successes and failures
  • Shed preconceptions, assumptions and ideologies that shut down options
  • Be crystal clear about the outcomes and the values underpinning those 
  • Hunger for data and shrewd extrapolations
  • Respect imagination 
  • Use scenarios to model the future
  • Know that intelligence is often knowing what to do when you don't know what to do
  • Talk with many people, especially people outside your usual circles
  • Avoid any thinking that rests upon defeating the tides of change
  • Care, a lot
And there are a probably many more special ingredients (what have I missed?)

As I have done on many other years, I have made a donation to a local charity that specialises in helping young people find their words and their voices. (You can too, if you wish: https://clearlyspeaking.org.uk/donate/). As someone who has made a living out of words, this seems like a good thing to do at this time of year. 

Finally, may I wish you, the reader, a truly Merry Christmas and a wonderful Happy and Healthy New Year! May we all be able to live our ordinary lives again - with close social distancing and happy, visible smiles!

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