This is not a year to remember. And yet it is a year that we will never forget. 2020 started like any other year. In fact, 2020 did not have a spectacular start at all – nothing to warn us of what was to come. I vividly remember 00:00 on 1 January 2000 – the turn of the millennium. Back then we were all scared of the Millennium Bug – a programming glitch in computers that caused global fears. From 1996 onwards almost every IT industry on the planet was working on fixing this bug. We were told how power stations would shut down and planes would fall out of the sky. So at the turn of midnight we were waiting with baited breath to see whether the Y2K bug (as it was known) would cause havoc… And nothing happened. Absolutely nothing! What a let-down.

“Get out of that comfort zone” – 2020’s special message

In 2012 we expected the end of the world. People who studied the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on 21 December 2012 – exactly 8 years ago. People stockpiled food and watched the date. And what happened? Absolutely nothing! Another year that we started with anticipation that fizzled out into a normal year.

And then 2020 came along without any warnings of what was to come. Sure, we heard about some virus in China, but after bird flu, swine flu and other flu’s over the years it seemed like another little scare that we would deal with when it comes. But then 2020 became the year that 2012 really aspired to be.

During the course of February we heard about this virus that was causing problems. But come on, this is Africa. Viruses don’t stand a chance in our climate. We were in Nelspruit for a rugby match on Saturday 7 March when we were hit by the first piece of fake news – something that threatened during the year to overtake the virus as the real pandemic. Apparently, someone in the Nelspruit hospital tested positive for Covid 19 and they threatened to shut down the whole hospital! So suddenly we started praying that this virus would not impact our rugby season. Little did we know what was to come.

A week later we played another rugby match. And the next day the South African nation were called to a family meeting. “My fellow South Africans…” Those words introduced the REAL 2020. Do you remember how crazy everyone became? Stockpiling of food and TOILET PAPER of all things. It was supposed to be a lockdown of 3 weeks. It turned into a lockdown of “I-lost-count” months. A Global virus response ensued. The whole world came to a standstill. Lockdown was something we never experienced. And it pulled all of us out of our comfort zones. We experienced it differently and we all responded differently. But a few things happened to all of us. We were all dragged out of the comfort zone through a growth zone into a panic zone where we did not know how to react because we were all in the unknown.

Looking back at 2020, I realise that I grew more as a person in this year than in any of the previous 49 years. My work was lightyears removed from what I normally do. School was a nasty piece of science fiction that ran like a prison camp and where we all became 2 o’clock kids. No Sport, no leadership activities, no events, no assemblies, no matric dance, just academics, academics and academics. It felt like I was back at a school in the Middle East where school is all about academics. I am not in this profession to do school this way. I felt as useless as a rusty nail – unable to add any value to anyone.

But on the other hand, I realised my work at Sutherland has become a comfort zone – a place where I do the same thing over and over again. 2020 yanked me out of this mental space and woke me up. I realised that I have more to offer and that I need to get out of my corner and make more of a difference. I constantly tell everyone to “Become the person God created you to be” – and yet I was not doing that. I was sitting back, participating in the journey around the sun and enjoying the ride. I’m not supposed to do that – I am supposed to make the ride happen.

2020 forced me to re-assess my life, look at who I am and where I’m going and I realised that this year was the kick I needed up my backside. All of a sudden I was growing again. All of a sudden I’m looking for ways to make a meaningful difference. And I will do so. I will live a meaningful life where I impact the lives of many. I will wake every day with the intention to make a difference. Please note that 2020 is not the beginning of the end… it is the end of the beginning. The best is yet to come. Take hands with me and let’s change this world in 2021!

I wish everyone a Blessed Christmas season and may the Lord give us all an awesome 2021. Please stay safe, dodge the virus and make a difference in the world around you.

Stay Blessed! And Become the person God created you to be!

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