2020 Retrospective: Top 3 Things That Made It Amazing

2020 will go down as the year that started the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many memes about 2020, but I think Match.com may have won the year with this amusing ad:

During the 2020 chaos, three things dramatically impacted me in a positive way. Each of these happened in different areas of my life. One is business-related, one is family, and one is just from life in general. Why am I writing about personal positives in a year when so many people suffered? I’m hoping you will see examples in your life that you forgot made you feel good. The pandemic shaped each of these stories, and I hope you see something you can relate to in each one.

Changing an entire industry in an instant!

The message came at 7:28 am on March 12, 2020:

Beginning now (12 March 2020), we will temporarily allow virtual CSM, CSPO, CSD, CAL I, and CE courses.

— Howard Sublett, Scrum Alliance Chief Product Owner

One sentence with enormous impact. The Scrum Alliance always required in-person courses for attendees to get certified. The switch to virtual classes happened in an instant due to the pandemic. There were stumbles along the way as an entire industry grappled with transitioning to new business models. It affected every Certified Scrum Trainer, including those from Agile For All. We all had to find tools to deliver instructor-led online training successfully. Fortunately, at Agile For All, we had dipped our toes into online courses. We already used an online platform for pre-work for our courses. We already used Zoom. We also had a group of 10 of us trying to solve the problem instead of just one or two like most other training companies. We all worked hard and managed to get all of our courses converted to the online world.

I made the personal choice to use the Miro platform as the collaboration tool for my courses. I don’t regret the decision at all. This video shows Miro in action:

Using Zoom is a bit different than in person, but you can still see people smile:

I was never an advocate for live, online training. I didn’t think the online tools would be sufficient for attendees to feel engaged. I thought there would be too many technical issues. I didn’t know how I would react to doing courses online, which was my biggest issue!

It turns out I was worried for no good reason. Online classes aren’t the same as in-person. I won’t deny that. I do still miss some pieces of the in-person experience. But I also have to admit there are times when online classes have advantages. You’d have to take one of my future courses to see those advantages, but they are real, and they are significant at times.

As I pivoted to having online courses, I also had to get better at being on video in general. At the end of 2020, I created some videos for leading into 2021. Those videos exist because I chose in 2020 to get better at being on video in 2021. In retrospect, that turned out to be a pretty lucky choice! Since August 3, 2020, I’ve also been creating videos for the #AgileDailyDose (check out the difference between the videos in early August 2020 and the current videos!). Peter Saddington (@AgilePeter) and I have also been doing a weekly “Real Agile or BS?” video.

All the work and investment involved in video and online courses led to a significant business decision. I decided I wanted to do more online, not less. It is why the Agile For All website has changed dramatically. It is also why we are hosting an agile community on the site.

2020 was an absolute stinker from a business revenue perspective. Agile For All isn’t unique since a lot of companies can say that. What makes us unique is our unbridled enthusiasm for 2021 and beyond! I’m so excited about our agile community. I’m excited about doing more online classes. I’m excited about blogging more. I’m excited to see what the future holds!

My oldest daughter got married

In early 2020 my oldest daughter’s now-husband wanted to speak with me. The call didn’t surprise me. I had been expecting it for quite some time. Knowing it was coming didn’t stop me from being overjoyed when he finally asked if it would be ok for him to ask my daughter to marry him. He wanted everything to be memorable, so it took a few weeks, but then we got the call from our daughter saying she was engaged. What a feeling!

Our daughter loves numbers. She is going for her Ph.D. in Biostatistics, which tells you how much she loves numbers. She quickly settled on the date of October 10, 2020, for the wedding – 10/10/2020. Then the pandemic became very real. Would the wedding be able to happen at all? If it did, would there be guests? The stress was off the charts.

Despite last-minute venue changes the wedding happened as scheduled on 10/10/2020.

We became neighbors, instead of people that live near each other

Before the pandemic, my life as a Certified Scrum Trainer and Coach was hectic. I was traveling all over the country a few times per month. When I was home, I was generally either tired or trying to catch up on leisure activities. I only knew a few of our neighbors.

Since the end of February 2020, I haven’t traveled for anything except the wedding mentioned above, and we drove there! I’ve been home all but six days in the past 11 months, and it has been fantastic. I have been able to be more active socially in our neighborhood. It turns out we have amazing neighbors. Who knew? We have a slew of new friends. Some of them have become extremely close friends. Even though we had to socially distance and wear masks, we still got together and learned about each other. I feel like I’ve been transported back in time to when neighbors were real friends rather than just people you see in passing as you drive in and out of your garage.

We knew we lived in a great neighborhood. The closeness and bonding we’ve experienced over the past 11 months has proven we made an excellent choice in moving here three years ago.

What about you?

I know not all of you have stories like this. I know there was a lot of struggle during the past year, and I don’t want to overlook it at all. I struggled as well. Those struggles are what made me write this article. Without those struggles, I may not have seen the joy in these things. Well, other than the wedding. That was joyous no matter what!

I hope you take stock of your past year and find those nuggets of goodness that happened. I hope some positive memories can get you through the next phase of the pandemic. At least that’s the recipe I’m trying for myself.

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