Reflections on 2021 – a Personal article by Al Simmonite

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As the year draws to a close and 2022 seems set to start with more uncertainty than we’d hoped, time for a quick reflection (pun intended when you see the picture) on the year.

It’s been intense, 2020 was the year of change, 2021 was the year of expectation yet one where we end up not far from where we started, or so it feels.

Personally/professionally, it’s been a great year, our business is moving forward, we’ve had some exciting developments, not least the full integration of a Learning and Development capability into Advance, and the opportunity in the second half of the year to get back out and make a real difference to teams face-to-face. I’m all too conscious though of others who have not had such good experiences, who haven’t been able to have the closure with departed loved ones etc. Our own Finance manager who has deferred her wedding for 2 years now (it will happen in 2022 “come hell or high water” so I’m told!!).

There have been challenges too, some deep reflection and personal learning that I hope have made me grow as a person, as a facilitator and as a leader and will improve what I and Advance can offer our clients in 2022 and beyond.

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This last weekend Mrs S and I managed to escape for a long awaited and much needed break in the Lake District. We timed it perfectly for the inversion over northern UK and I managed to get my camera out and working. I realised this weekend how much I needed the decompression. For various reasons unrelated to work we haven’t had our usual week away in Oct/Nov and, boy, have we felt it. The attached is just a quick phone grab from the lovely Tarn Hows near Ambleside in the blue skies above the low-lying cloud.

We talk to our client teams about challenge and support and resilience and all too easily forget ourselves in that conversation. I need my decompression, my respite as much as anyone. And for me, that mental wellbeing, that good place, comes in part from looking through the viewfinder of my DSLR and focusing only on what I see. I need to do that more in 2022!

The world is changing, and not just because of COVID. COP 26, the polarity of social views and politics all seem to be driving us to change or get left behind. The next generations coming into the workforce have different views on life (and in a couple of years that will be my own children embarking on that journey!). We have some challenges as a species ahead if we are to leave them any lasting legacy on this planet. I’m committed to doing what we can to help and want us to do much more of that next year.

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So what?? I hear you cry…

We need to remain open, curious and humble. Be willing to be vulnerable and accept that we can’t do it all by ourselves. The leadership paradigm is shifting, phrases like trust and psychological safety are much more the current leadership vernacular. The journey needs to continue. I want to be part of that, I want Advance to be a leading light in that conversation in 2022 and onwards.

We hope to have even more exciting news to share in early 2022! I can’t wait!

I look forward to the dialogue, and to the team taking Advance to the next level with our associates, partners, friends and colleagues. In the meantime, have a great Christmas

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