In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast of the United States, specifically devastating New Orleans and the surrounding areas. The storm itself, its aftermath, and the government response can be remembered as one of the most distinct tragedies of the past 20 years. Over a thousand people died and communities were destroyed in a little over a week. More deeply rooted and complex repercussions raged for years to come.
Ultimately, Hurricane Katrina went down in history as one of the worst natural disasters this country has ever faced, costing more than $100 billion in damage.
New Orleans, despite this pain, remained resilient. Levees and homes were rebuilt stronger and better. The people fought for their city and its unique culture and history. While still a tragic event, Katrina forced New Orleans to become a stronger city. The crisis ultimately led to a transformation.
In many ways, we have lived through our own crisis within the past year. A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger; and 2020 certainly fits this description. This year of crisis, however, can also be counted as a year of preparation.
At times I ask myself if preparation is actually worth the pain we experience in the midst of a crisis– is preparation really that important when it comes to making huge leaps? I know the answer is a resounding yes.
To that end, here are some 2020 preparation highlights that may resonate with you:
- 2020 made us appreciate our reality– Often a crisis can help us put things like our jobs, our relationships, and our health into perspective. 2020 certainly made that clear with all the new ways we have experienced reality and life.
- It allowed us to face adversity on some level– With something like COVID-19, we couldn’t run away from the problem because it was everywhere. A large scale crisis forces us to deal with whatever is at hand.
- It created a vision of hope for the future– A crisis like this points out flaws in our system that we can address in order to create a better future. Additionally, it reminds us how resilient we really are.
- It forced us to think– COVID-19 disrupted many of our normal patterns of life. However, we couldn’t pause life completely. We had to think creatively to solve our problems.
- It gave us the chance to build more authentic relationships– Again, COVID-19 disrupted the way we would normally engage in our relationships. Not only has this forced us to think of new ways of interacting with those closest to us, but it has also highlighted the need for these very relationships.
All of these things together can help push us toward transformation. While some may not be sure about what the transformation will look like, there is no question that we are ready for whatever comes our way. We have demonstrated that we can overcome the obstacles and challenges because we are prepared. Just as New Orleans built back after Katrina, living through this past year has made us more resilient and ready to deal with whatever lies in the year ahead.
What transformation will 2021 bring your way? Give it a thought, jot it down, then engage it!
Happy New Year!
Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country, a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.