In Accountability, Challenges, Communication, Employee Development, Leadership, Mindset, Strategic Grit, Success

Did your expectations for 2020 crash and burn? Don’t throw the smoking heap of unrealized goals and planning out! There are treasures buried there, including lots of learning and new insights. Let us explain.

In our last Strategic Grit post (Are you ready to not just plan but DO? – Holly Adams Consulting), we discussed creating a clear vision of the future you’re working toward with the help of a Framing Question and a Product Goal.

It isn’t enough to envision the future; it’s critical to take action. In 2020, you likely tried things you would never have had circumstances not twisted your arm (COVID, Derecho storm, lost clients, etc.). As you head into 2021, now is a great time to reflect on the changes you created—or that were imposed on you—to determine what to carry forward and what to leave behind in that hot-mess pile we talked about earlier.

Here are some ideas for finding the keepers.

Jennifer: I often use the Strategic Doing ( methodology to guide organizations through planning and action steps to create a new future. One step in the process is to uncover the available assets, the building materials on hand that can be used to craft the envisioned future. These assets can be human skillsphysical resources readily accessible to team members, networks and relationships, and, of course, capital.

If you’re so inclined, grab a pen or pencil and jot down all available assets relevant to your 2021 vision. You can organize them into the four categories I mentioned above: Skills; Physical Resources; Networks and Relationships; and Capital.

Once you’ve identified the assets available for the work at hand, you can imagine different ways to combine and use them to move toward your envisioned future. This is, in essence, what we all did in 2020: As the world shifted beneath our feet, we made quick judgments and had flashes of inspiration about how to use what we had on hand to respond to the unexpected. However, the real power is in creating time and space to intentionally do this reimagining and innovating in advance, not just in real-time.

Reflect for a moment on what you’ve done in 2020—and on the future vision you’re working to bring to life. Then ask What worked? Is it sustainable? What didn’t work? Is there something else we should try, given what we’ve learned?

Now randomly choose two assets from your list and brainstorm how they might be used to service your vision for 2021. Once you’ve run out of juice with these two assets, randomly choose two more and try again. You can also try this thought experiment backward: Start with the vision of the future you want to create by the end of 2021 and see what assets on your list could help you accomplish the vision.

This is a great way to begin stitching together a strategy for moving forward in 2021. We’ll talk more about this in our next Strategic Grit post.

Holly: It would be easy, understandable even due to pandemic fatigue and busy holiday schedules, to just coast into 2021 without really thinking much about business goals. Some leaders plan to wait for a vaccine or fly under the radar until someone else decides what 2021 can look like. But please don’t fall into the trap of immobility. Now is the perfect time to begin the grit-building process, even if you can only find a couple of minutes!

A key component in the Strategic Grit process is focusing on the solution, not getting sidelined by smoldering heaps of regrets. Focusing on the solution means asking yourself, what’s the one thing you can do today to take a step closer to a positive outcome? You could also think about what worked in 2020. As Jennifer mentioned, your answer may or may not be sustainable moving forward, but documenting the answer is essential.

Now think about what didn’t work. This list might be long given the challenges of 2020, so just consider your top 3-5 misfires or missteps. Jot them down. This list of what worked and what didn’t in 2020 represents, in an elementary form, your framework for pursuing and reaching your vision in 2021.

Now consider what’s next. What’s one thing you want to do or try to get closer to your vision/product goal? Start big and keep drilling down to actionable items. What’s one thing you want to try next week/next month/next quarter? Ideally, what’s the one thing you can do TODAY?

Here’s an example of what the framework looks like:


♦ Goal: increase connection to virtual team members

♦ What worked: established team and individual check-ins; themed/fun topics

♦What didn’t work: length of the regular check meetings (too long); not enough structure/lack of a plan

♦ What’s next: shorten meetings; employee drives part of the process by checking in regarding hits and misses for the current week and outlining the focus for the following week; shared coordination (employee and manager) for developing themed/fun virtual calls.

This is how you can begin to experiment with data collected from your own experiences in 2020 and use it to make powerful adjustments in 2021.

Jennifer and Holly: We’d love to hear about your asset “keepers” list or how you used the framework provided to take action toward your goals. Let us know!

We appreciate and want to share the following reminder from Angela Duckworth in her book, Grit.

“From the very beginning to the very end, it is inestimably important to learn to keep going when things are difficult, even when we have doubts. At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.”

In our next blog post, we will continue to share ways to build confidence to forge ahead. In the meantime, you can reach us at or with your questions and comments.

Thank you for spending a bit of time with us!

Jennifer and Holly

About Jennifer:

Jennifer helps businesses, nonprofits, and community coalitions with evolution management: tackling complex problems, determining strategic direction, and taking action to create a new future. She is a Certified Strategic Doing Workshop Leader.

About Holly:

Holly is a trusted partner to individuals and teams, helping them forge and refine purposeful leadership and authentic collaboration to navigate both planned routes and unexpected detours successfully. She is a certified Human Resources Professional and Mental Toughness Trainer.

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