19 #goodthingsabout2020

Issue 155 — December 28, 2020

You’d think this year is an animate being one could punch or despise or dress down. Every other headline on those end-of-year emails clogging our inboxes rails against poor old 2020. Worst year ever, leave it in the rearview mirror, kick it to the curb, and so on.

Without question, the sickness and death carnage of COVID-19 has taken a toll on each of us individually and all of us collectively. Is anyone’s family untouched by a positive COVID-19 test at this point? Quite likely, we’ve had someone close to us among the 333,000 who have died to date. These events are devastating and having had several members of our immediate family contract the disease, my heart goes out to all who are struggling with it and its aftereffects. Let us take a moment to hold each other in our hearts.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a sense of despair and derailment for good reason. I’m guessing all of us have felt these emotions at times, whether from losing a loved one, a job, a business, or sense of control over our lives. But COVID-19 and its confluence with systemic racial injustices exemplified by the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and far too many others has crystallized a larger sense of purpose along with the despair. What might have started with bread baking or marching has evolved into thinking about, and in some instances, already being immersed in creating not new normal but normalizing better futures.

Not that I’m a Pollyanna by any means, but my own anxiety level propelled me to counteract the negativity swirling around me by asking a simple question of myself and friends: “What are the gifts of the pandemic? Please reply using the hashtag #goodthingsabout2020.”

I started the list off with the first two that came to my mind and I appreciate the many people who contributed to this list. Please keep growing the list on my Facebook page where I’ll post this article for further conversation.

Anyway, here goes:

  1. Kamala Harris broke the second highest and hardest glass ceiling by being elected the first female, Black and South Asian Vice President of the USA. This is a boundary breaker of epic proportions for gender and racial equality. As Harris herself said, she may be the first but she won’t be the last now that every little girl can see herself in the next to highest office of the land.

2. Workplaces are forever changed to be more flexible. It’s overtly clear that a substantial amount of work can be done from home and with flexible time, making remote work an option for many workers who need to attend to caregiving or are interested in jobs located geographically remote from their homes. It also gives companies access to a wider range of talent.

3–8. Responses from Instagram, thank you very much everyone:

9. From Twitter, relative to how more flexible workplaces are more adaptable to the needs of people with disabilities:

10. Frontline workers are more valued and appreciated. Now that is the case, let’s pay them commensurately and above all, everyone wear a mask and maintain social distance until the public health professionals tell us it’s ok to relax those measures!

11. The virtual space made it possible for events like the one Take The Lead hosted with Gloria Steinem and Julianne Moore to take place and be accessible to our supporters regardless of location. If you joined us, thank you! If you missed it, look for the video to be released in early January.

12. While the evidence shows that especially for younger children, virtual school classes are not optimal learning experiences, at the same time, many parents express appreciation for the opportunities the past year has brought to spend more time with their children, have lunch with them, and to learn more about what they are learning, or are supposed to learn, in school.

13. A global pandemic teaches us all how interdependent we are. We might be spending most of our time alone physically but we are all in this together. Viruses know no borders after all, and economies are interconnected.

14. We learned there are leadership communication variances between men and women that make a big difference when it comes to managing a crisis like a pandemic successfully, giving yet one more reason for gender parity in leadership. According to one study of 122 speeches on COVID-19 by 20 leaders, half men and half women, researchers found that although all leaders talked about the economic impact of the pandemic, “women leaders spoke more frequently about the impact on a local or individual scale.” Furthermore, women leaders described more often “a wider range of social welfare services,” such as those tackling “mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence.” This leads to…

15. Evidence that leading like a woman is a good thing:

16. Gender and racial justice leading to equity and parity in leadership are more important than ever, and the intersection of race and gender has never been more evident. At Take The Lead, we see a dramatic increase in queries about our training and coaching services that provide solutions for companies eager to take action for diversity and inclusion. So we have done a review of our entire curriculum with a racial justice lens and developed the “Creating a Culture of Inclusion” program for companies. Contact us — we’d love to help you.

17. This became very clear:

18. The most effective leaders are known to be optimists. The setbacks, the bumps in the road, the things that seem like failures, can become the energy that propels us forward, sometimes in the most unexpected ways toward our purpose. In memoriam, since Chadwick Boseman exemplifies purpose in the face of tragedy.

19. We can — we must — define what the next normal will be. We will never have such a break in the boundaries of what has been usual practice. And when boundaries are broken, new thinking can rush into those open spaces and become accepted practice faster than at any other time. Because cultures are famously hard to change — until they do and then suddenly everyone accepts the new status quo.

For all who are ready for 2021, songwriter Marvin Hamlisch said it best. “Kiss today goodbye, and point me toward tomorrow.”

Warmest wishes for the Brave New Year. Be bold. Set your terms. Commit to #intentioning to achieve your dreams. Let’s make it a great year ahead. Remember to share your #goodthingsabout2020 on my Facebook page. And here are some more hashtags to consider using. #taketheleadwomen #leadershipdevelopment #powerofintention


GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.



Gloria Feldt is a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a nonprofit women’s leadership organization.

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Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a nonprofit women’s leadership organization.