The Agony and Ecstasy of 2020: Discovering Resilience Cubed

agony and ecstasy of 2020 for miller family

For many, 2020 will be remembered as the first year of a global pandemic, when our lives changed forever. For the Miller family, the highs and lows of 2020 meant that the global health crisis was simply a backdrop to an extraordinary year of financial and health challenges that we never could have expected. The list below captures some of the many agonies and ecstasies of a year to never be forgotten.

Agony – The global pandemic and New Zealand lockdown resulted in the loss of nearly 100% of my international strategic partnership income (Gallup), and a further loss of about 20% of my domestic income.

Ecstasy – Lockdown created the need and proved the ability to flex toward online coaching and facilitation, modes of delivery I never would have invested in had it not been for the  pandemic.  My confidence and capability (supported by the amazing Antonia Milkop) in delivering online webinars resulted in a new and substantial global audience on topics such as Strengths-Based Economic Recovery for Small Business and Strengths-Based Selling for Independent Coaches and Consultants.

Agony – ‘Normal’ activities (sport, music, school, work) were all significantly disrupted by the 2020 lockdown, with many of our family’s favourite people and organisations under the strain of adapting to a new reality.

Ecstasy – Our connection as a family, and as a community were meaningfully enhanced by the need to be adaptable and find ways to support each other.  Family walks during lockdown, Zoom dryland training sessions (diving), huge compassionate support from school through both teachers and fellow students and finding creative ways to stay connected to clients were all highlights for me.

agony and ecstasy of 2020 for miller family

Agony – Worst day of my 49 year life (so far) arrived on 8th June 2020, when my wife Fiona collapsed at home, was rushed to the emergency department, and was diagnosed with a Grade 4 brain tumour, on the day that New Zealand dropped from Level 2 to Level 1 Covid alert level.

Ecstasy – Realising that I am married to some kind of superhero, who made removal of a brain tumour and subsequent recovery look fun and easy nearly every step of the way.  Her courage and strength carried our family through surgery, return to home, radiation therapy and amazing stamina to have started an end to end swim of New Zealand in support of the Neurological Foundation.  As of 31st December 2020, she has completed 56km of 1402km, the distance from Bluff to Cape Rienga, or the length of New Zealand as the crow flies.

Agony – fear of investing in my coaching & mentoring practice, and in myself, during a crazy and unpredictable year.  As a result of Fiona’s health, my need to step back from my business, and the spill-over effects of the New Zealand lockdown, my income in July 2020 hit $0.79 cents. (In Thought Leadership Practice terminology, I was approaching yellow belt at the end of 2019, dropped to pre-white belt mid-year, and have re-built my income to white belt levels in the last few months of 2020.)

Ecstasy – finding the courage to continue investing in the growth of my practice, including new branding and website (launched September 2020), publishing my first magazine (Insights) and hiring my first amazing business manager in December 2020. Receiving my  first significant international income (independent of a strategic partner) from Australia and USA.

Agony – feeling the pressure of fight, flight or freeze caused by all of the scary events of the year, including a temptation to avoid meaningful creative investment.

Ecstasy – completing 52 pink sheets (thought leaders intellectual property development tool) and over 10 green sheets in support of my coaching and mentoring practice.  Creating a detailed outline for 4 potential future books to be developed in 2021. Launching my CliftonStrengths coaching question database to rave reviews.

Agony – facing incomprehensible level of family health and economic challenges throughout the year.

Ecstasy – realising that I am stronger than I ever thought possible (and my wife is even stronger than that!).  Money / income is incidental versus the things that really matter in life.

Agony – discovering that not every member of the team fits your values and purpose.

Ecstasy – finding new members of the team who are worth their weight in gold.

Agony – success, happiness and fulfilment are desirable, but not sustainable, in every moment of life.  Sometimes the contrast of extraordinarily terrible days create the contrast needed to appreciate life’s greatest highlights.

Ecstasy – for me, success, happiness and fulfilment are more often created by facilitating those experiences for others, whether they be family, friends or clients.

Ecstasy – what appears to be a crisis (Covid, cancer scare, brain tumour, seizure etc) might just be a blessing in disguise.

Ecstasy – life is short, live it to the full, and in our case, add a member to the family in the form of a Vizsla puppy!!

May 2021 and beyond find you happy, healthy and full of the love and connections that bring you strength!


About the author

Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller

I am passionate about helping and inspiring small business owners to create their purpose, live their values and experience success, happiness and fulfilment by owning a business they can be proud of.
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