I have been in a number of conversations over the past few months talking about how 2016 has been a terrible year for so many people. There has even been a meme dedicated to how tough the year has been. At this point I have to admit that I began slipping into the same mindset, believing that 2016 was a terrible year.

In 2016 my business partner immigrated, I have had to work harder than ever before to keep the business healthy, my good friends got divorced, I spent too much time away from home, missed my sons Christmas play, had so many unseen expenses, both in business and personally. I have been near burnout for almost two months now, I have been so busy that I miss my wife, friends and family. I’m tired, grumpy and easily irritated. And so on, and so on…

It’s so easy to join the crowd and agree with how bad 2016 has been. It has been tough, very tough. So I challenged myself to look at the bright side and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

  • I finally wrote a book which has been a dream of mine since I started reading business books.
  • Our business grew, despite challenges that come with setting big targets, to the point that we need to double the size of our office space
  • Stacey, my wife, had great things take place in her career and it’s clear that she is to going have a great career in the future.
  • We launched a new product in South Africa
  • We successfully launched our DigitLab Academy in a great partnership with Vega
  • Almost 33% of the people in our business were promoted to new responsibilities this year. It’s my greatest moment to see people grow in our business.
  • Our event series Digital Swarm more than doubled in size and started attracting top speakers to help accelerate the digital industry in Durban.
  • I found a new passion in business that has fuelled my energy and life this year. This has helped me focus more and drive harder to realize a new personal vision.

So I look at these two lists of good and bad things that have happened and I realized a few things.

Tough does not equal bad

Yes, 2016 has been the toughest year, we’ve faced some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever had to deal with. However despite all this, our team at DigitLab has, to date, hit each and every strategic goal we set at the beginning of this year. This means that 2016 could very well be our best year yet.

People need a challenge

I speak about this in my book but it’s something I’ve found to be true. When we stand before challenges, we can get caught up in the downside or understand that challenges in life bring an opportunity to grow, to succeed, and to master it. Trials are times of refining, growth and strength building.

Every year is a mixed bag

Every past year in my life has been filled with a mix of the good and the bad. Failed businesses, divorce, and stress have coincided with business success, personal success, love and times of great joy. Our lives are more like roller coasters than cable cars. Every dip makes the way up more exciting. We fear the dip, it makes us more cautious but it doesn’t stop us enjoying the ride. A flat rollercoaster would be the biggest waste of time. The ups and down make it interesting and exciting.

Take stock of 2016

Take a bigger view of the year, look at the good and bad, the ups and downs, don’t isolate your thinking. Losses in business sometimes means progress personally, personal sacrifices often mean growth in other areas. Take stock in an objective manner and then decide if 2016 was actually as bad as the media wants us to believe.

In my view, 2016 was my greatest leadership challenge, something I need to step up to, something that gave me purpose and something to wake up in the morning.

My review

In my review of 2016 I saw a tough year but a great year where my team stood up to the challenges and beat them. My wife courageously took on a new career and I grew every step of the way.
I will choose to thank God for a great and powerful 2016 that has made me stronger.

2016 was a great year!