September 2020

Hindsight is 2020.

What does that mean to you? 

I never thought I’d be saying it means, “I’m sick and tired of 2020 and want it to just go away. I want to put it in my hindsight. Behind me. In the past. Finito.” Like Jo Dee Messina’s lyrics: 

Bye Bye love
I’ll catch you later
Got a left foot down on my accelerator
And the rear view mirror torn off
ain’t never lookin’ back 
and that’s a fact

Is there anyone who doesn’t want to shut the door on this year and move to something better? Between deadly viruses, continued violence against people of color, unrelenting fires, hurricanes, economic hardship, forced isolation and the end of the life we knew it, there’s a lot to move past.

There is also a lot to move toward. In fact, when we let the past define us and the present confine us, the obstacles blind us. 

I want to see my way into a better place.

In the “perfect clarity” gleaned from my 2020 experience thus far, I’m using the rest of this year as motivation to move. My move isn’t physical – it’s mental.  

*  *  * 

I’m shifting my focus from hindsight to foresight, and I’m doing it by gaining clarity on three things:  vision, values and volition. 

  • Vision will help me be really specific about what I want my future to look like 
  • Values will be the measuring stick for my choices and a reminder of my priorities 
  • Volition will be my ability to make it happen 

*  *  * 

This focus on foresight has worked for me before.

In the financial crisis of 2008-2010, I found myself being ousted from my last CEO job, battling a health crisis and facing an empty nest. While I could have wallowed in what was done to me and what I lost, I decided to move past my personal year from hell and to visualize the best possible new reality. 

The first thing I did was to think about what I did well and what fired me up. Entrepreneurial leadership was something I couldn’t get enough of. Creativity and fashion were signatures for me, and an important part of my self-expression. And philanthropy, beginning with my efforts to help support a school in Uganda*, had more recently captured my heart. The idea of being part of a movement to make lives better for others became soul-sustaining. 

In 2010, what potential new career opportunity contained all of those elements for me? 

Tom’s Shoes. 

Tom’s was one of the first sustainable fashion brands that had philanthropy as a core part of its business model. It was growing like gangbusters, fashion-forward and provided a win-win outcome for buyers and for recipients of its shoe donations. Wearing Tom’s shoes was a statement about the wearer’s commitment to giving back.

I told everyone I knew that I wanted to be the “Chief Shoe Giver of Tom’s Shoes”. It was my way of putting a new stake in the ground, declaring my intentions and asking for help. 

When you say something out loud and say it often enough, people tend to think of you when that thing (or something like that thing) comes along.

Still, I was shocked when my dear friend Thomas Tighe (who runs Relief International) called me to say, “Anne, you won’t believe the job listing that came across my desk this morning.” 

Sure enough, Blake Mycoskie, the Founder of Tom’s Shoes, was looking for someone to help him run his company. 

*  *  *  

Wouldn’t it be perfect if I said I got that job and started my next life chapter? 

Yes, it would, but that’s not what happened. 

What DID happen is that while I was telling everyone about the perfect job for me and hoping to get leads, I had developed such a strong vision, such clarity on my values and such volition to make a difference that I had already started finding another outlet for my entrepreneurship, creativity and service. Before I learned about the job opportunity at Tom’s, I had given birth to Parlay House. Glinda would have said, “The power was always within you, my dear.”

What turned out to be “perfect” for me was not that specific job, but gaining the clarity and conviction to bring something new to life that benefitted me as well as my community.

As you close the door on 2020, where will you be moving?

I see these next three months as a perfect time to put firm stakes in the ground about our individual and collective vision, values and volition. 

Visualizing a better personal future may help shift the balance to contain more of the initiatives that resonate and feel fulfilling. It might also give us clarity about what we can let go of and leave in the hindsight of 2020.

I hope you’re with me in ripping off those rearview mirrors, leaving 2020 in the dust and moving on to opportunities we have only begun to envision.

*  *  * 

What are your 2020 Headlines? 

Share it Small: As you gain clarity, write your own headlines rather than relying on the old news. ”Woman Single-Handedly Gets 10 Friends to Vote” and “You’re Never Too Old To Start Something New” are ways to validate your thinking and remind you that these positive small steps are actually big news. 

Share it Big: Tell five people you don’t know well what your headlines are. Share them publicly as a way of saying, “Help me and hold me accountable.” I can’t think of much that is more empowering than talking about how we are putting stakes in the ground and helping shape both our individual and collaborative destiny.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a break-through, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.

*I continue to be in awe of the work being done by the iHUG Foundation.