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Turning 21 is a milestone in life, a day steeped in the tradition of celebrating a ‘welcome to adulthood and coming of age’.

Around the world, this is an important event where family and friends gather to acknowledge the past and hand over the ‘key’ to adulthood.

This key is handed over with love, humour, care and symbolism. It represents an energetic shift in responsibility and a time to start thinking more seriously and courageously about future aspirations, ideas and plans.

As the last day of 2020 comes to an end, I’ve been thinking about the world’s 21 st birthday milestone fast approaching (2021) and what the implications are for all of us.

We’re officially being handed the key to ‘responsibility and aspirations for the future’ after an FFT year! Dr Brené Brown coined the term FFT’s “effing first times” this year, so brilliantly capturing the challenges we’re all facing!

On a personal note, our family’s FFT’s included being unable to travel to support a sister having major surgery for cancer in another country, having a daughter visit Australia and be whisked away to 2 weeks hotel quarantine before we could see her, being unable to meet a newly born granddaughter in hospital. I feel sure you could add reams to this list as you reflect on your own experience of 2020.

There are also some FFT’s that have had silver linings. Being forced to slow down. Reconnecting with our values and time to reflect on what’s really important in life. Mastering Zoom. The chance to see our families more as we worked remotely and spent less time in airports and traffic jams!

At a global level, one huge plus has been giving the atmosphere breathing space as air traffic slowed.

With all the FFT’s, our leaders are now looking bravely at a few scenarios for 2021.

It’s an important year for leadership. Deloitte and Salesforce hosted a dialogue with some of the world’s best-known scenario thinkers to consider the societal and business impact of the pandemic.

What could life be like after this crisis, and what will it take to thrive in 2021 and beyond?

As you read the four (4) possible scenarios, and you think about the significance and responsibility of turning 21, what ‘stories’ would you like to see told at a global 21 st birthday party?

Always bear in mind the Stockdale Paradox, or in Dr Brené Brown’s words, Gritty Facts and Gritty Faith. It’s important to be realistic about the facts at hand, whilst at the same time holding an optimistic lens about potential options and different ways of finding solutions.

As leaders at every layer and level get handed their 21 st key, may they think broadly, care considerably, reflect wisely and act decisively.

Happy 21 st!

Cheers Alison

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