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The Great Realization

As we reflect on 2021 and look forward to 2022, I hope you and your family are safe and well.

As part of my reflection, I focus on what I expected from the year and how it met expectations. After all, we stepped into 2021 after some of the darkest months of the pandemic. In January, the world suffered from high hospitalization and infection rates, while questions about the future economy and COVID impacts fueled continued uncertainty. But we also saw the hope in the form of vaccines getting us and the economy back to “normal.”

Many have referred to 2021 as the “Great Reset,” but I think of it more as “the Great Realization and Reckoning.” By “Realization,” I mean that we’ve recognized that there will never be a full return to our “old normal.” The virus likely will be with us going forward to some degree. It will continue to disrupt parts of our workplace, economy, and personal lives.


What we do with the lessons of 2021 as we step into 2022 will define the next decade, and potentially, the next generation.


We also realized from the pandemic that our time and control had gotten away from us. The shift to working from home led us to reflect on our priorities and life balance. Many realized just how many hours they’d lost in long commutes and sitting in meetings of little value…

For some, this Reckoning led to leaving their current job or retiring (aka the Great Resignation).

Meanwhile, massive supply chain disruptions caused global chaos. For some industries and businesses, this Reckoning has been catastrophic. As leaders, we evaluated how well we adapted to the disruption. This also led to a Realization of where our teams may have been complacent, and how new risks require new approaches.

This is why I strongly believe that 2022 will be one of the most pivotal years in our modern history.

I believe these Realizations have led to some Reckonings that are still unfolding. What we do with the lessons of 2021 as we step into 2022 will define the next decade, and potentially, the next generation.

Think of it like a football game where we come in with a certain expectation of how the game will play out, but we got surprised in the first half and found ourselves in the locker room at halftime devising a new game plan for the second half.

How we adapt and work together through our “second half” will define us. This is why I strongly believe that 2022 will be one of the most pivotal years in our modern history.

More than 15 years ago, when I first studied the underlying factors that were building up for disruption, there were three primary factors that were driving us toward increased uncertainty and change: generational shifts, technological change, and globalization.

Today, I see a multitude of factors driving us beyond these three—creating increased complexity of how choices can lead to unintended consequences. And this requires a new level of agility and adaptation for our organizations to remain resilient.


Issues Facing Leaders in 2022 and Beyond

Here is my shortlist of additional factors I see facing leaders in 2022 and beyond:

  • Evolving the meaning of work and the workplace, while sustaining employee engagement and retention.
  • Responding to the immediate supply chain and logistical challenges, while developing long-term strategies to mitigate their future impact.
  • Responding to rising geopolitical tensions with Russia and China, with space potentially becoming the new arms race.
  • Addressing long-term income and social inequities with short-term inflationary and social equity principles.
  • Re-establishing trust in facts and information to re-develop empathy in our community and society.

Despite this list of incredible challenges, I have optimism for our future. But it must start with you and with me. We can’t just “hope” others will take care of it for us.


The year 2022 is our halftime adjustment.


Our younger generations are wary of meaningless talk. They want to see action to build the future for tomorrow. Working closely with Gen Z and Millennials, I’m amazed by their brilliance and approach to making change happen. Including them in the conversations and enabling them to make a difference in our organizations as quickly as possible could become a key factor to success in the New Year.

I also believe corporate leaders and their companies taking stands on key social and moral issues are providing voices and vision in a sometimes directionless desert. We need more of this as we try to decide who we want to be going forward instead of who we’ve been in the past.

And underlying all of this are the technology innovations that can change the world we live in. From VTOL aircraft to breakthroughs in energy creation and storage of new materials, I am excited about what’s next.

2021 reminded us that the world can be “heavy.” We weren’t going to just snap back into the “normal” we had before 2020. That’s unrealistic thinking. There have been societal and technological factors at play for more than a decade prior to the pandemic that has been amplified and accelerated these past two years. The year 2022 is our halftime adjustment.

Ask yourself: What is your Great Realization and Reckoning, and what do you need to do to reset your second half?



Do you need help working through leadership challenges to transform disruption into opportunity? Contact us to learn about Bill’s leadership keynote speakingexecutive coaching, and facilitation services.