Don’t Just Chase Butterflies in 2021, Be One “Hindsight is 20/20”

Published: 11/1, 2021

Rarely, if ever, has there been a more apt expression for reflecting on the events of the past 12 months, a roller-coaster ride of a year will rarely be discussed or contemplated without accompanying slow shakes of the head. 

Whether you, your family, and your business were fortunate enough to escape the year relatively unscathed, or if tragedy and disappointment touched your life, it’s obviously impossible to hit the proverbial RESET button or simply forge ahead as if nothing happened. 

Yet, I’m not a fan of the term “new normal,” because “normal” is relative and changes on a moment-to-moment basis. Our individual sense of normal is influenced by decisions both large and small—a casual high school flirtation that turns into a lifelong marriage, or the offhand observation about a work process that eventually turns into a profitable service line.

If you believe in the “butterfly effect”—the postulation that the flap of a butterfly’s wings might ultimately cause a tornado—you know that much of what drives “normal” is beyond our control. An examination of business trends, for example, might reveal that the uptick in industrial construction in your market can be traced back to the reformulation of a popular toothpaste mixture. (If you have any doubts, check out the old TV series, “Connections.”)

Fortunately, our lives and businesses aren’t totally at the whim of chance. There are things we do both consciously and instinctively that can improve the quality of our lives and those we care about, and the success of our businesses.

That’s where the “2020 hindsight” comes in. While not all of the past year’s changes and events are permanent, they’ll likely shape what we do and how we do it for some time. And whether your construction and demolition business is slowed or roaring, a look back at 2020’s experiences will likely provide more control over what’s to come. 

Assessing the effectiveness and productivity impacts of measures to limit coronavirus spread may reveal opportunities to make them standard parts of your health and safety program, making your business more attractive to both employees and prospective clients with their own safety concerns and requirements. Similarly, you may have avoided a large capital outlay by keeping existing equipment in use last year, but how much of that cost avoidance was lost to extra maintenance, compromised performance, or worker downtime?

Hopefully in twelve months, we’ll ring out 2021 with fonder memories and accomplishments, making for a universally better “normal” than what we’re dealing with now. To be sure, there are a lot of butterflies flapping their wings in all corners of the world at this moment. But let’s also remember that each of us has one way or another “flapped” our way to this point, and can do far more than we may realize to secure a safer, more robust “normal” than we may have ever realized.

And with the right wind, 2021 can be a year for each of us to truly soar.

Jim Parsons, Senior Editor

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