Change is inevitable, yet many of us continue to ignore and even resist. Many of us who live in a four-season climate experience changes in our environment every three months yet are somehow surprised every turn of the season. Particularly in the winter at how damn cold it gets. Or is it just that we are getting older, and we are less tolerant of the cold? Every year we all whine and complain as if it’s a new phenomenon.  

Weather forecast for tonight: dark.” 

Georger Carlin

Today we are in the middle of fall here in Toronto with the amber, bright red, and burnt umber leaves on the ground and a brisk coolness in the air. After a warm summer with plenty of sunshiny days, a relatively mild September and October, the nights are getting longer, and the days are getting colder. The autumn season is upon us, with winter appearing just over the horizon in the not too distant future, this foretells the end of another year. Has our concept of time changed this year? 2020 seemed to whiz by, dominated by a hope-filled start then hit by COVID-19, quarantine, loss of jobs, the ongoing drama of the U.S. elections, and economic uncertainty. I can’t imagine anyone being too hesitant to see it over and done. 

As articles and blogs begin to pop up around us with predictions for 2021, the sense of uncertainty is more prevalent than ever. We have no choice but to continue to sail onward and upward. Like a ship at sea moving through a dense fog, cautious and deliberate, not knowing if there is an iceberg below that could rip into its hull, we move ahead into the foggy uncertainty. Yet, predictions abound and begin to pop up all over the internet from pundits to aspiring wannabees. From what I can tell, many of the predictions are the same as they were last year. 

For all the speculation, as a rule, people are not good at predicting the future. When cars came along, most said cars would never replace horses and buggies; when television came along, people said it would not replace the beloved radio as the home evening entertainment choice. Even one of my business heroes, Bill Gates, who predicted a Computer in every home in 1975, was off the mark in 1994 when he said, ‘I see little potential for the Internet for at least ten years.’ Boy, was he wrong on that one, as was Charles Duell in 1899 when he speculated on future inventions: 

Everything that can be invented has been invented.’ 

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office Patents, 1899 

The reality is that things change gradually all around us, so it’s often difficult for us to notice, let alone predict the future. Just like the change of seasons, you first feel a slight chill in the air; then, a few leaves start to fall a few weeks later. Before long, a rainy and windy day comes along, and the next morning plenty of leaves are on the ground. Then one day, you wake up and see the bare trees as snow begins to fall. For those who lack awareness, grinding through their day to day, this may seem to have come by surprise. However, the signposts were there all along and are there every year.  

My prediction for 2021? Innovation will continue and indeed accelerate. 2021 is your year of opportunity. Instead of running away or being afraid of change, run toward it, or, better yet, make it happen. Competitiveness, difficult times, and adversities push innovation. Look out for the signs in your business and community. The further you are away from the person, company, organization driving positive, productive change, the less value you can add. Organizations are looking for those who can make a difference through original thought and creativity, so maintain your awareness. Get to know and understand your industry and its environment. Make 2021 your year where you walk on the leading edge, not sit on the bleachers watching from a distance. 

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