What a year it was! I am sure you heard this sentence more than once in the last few days and perhaps you said it yourself. In any case, 2020 is a year we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Not everything was bad in 2020

When we look back on this year, we think of the many people who got ill and died, the economic difficulties, the private problems and challenges – all that we had to shoulder and cope with. Given this, we are all understandably glad to be able to leave it behind us, even if the pandemic is not yet over and the long-term consequences can hardly be assessed. But despite all the negative things, it wasn’t all bad. There were actually a few positive aspects that definitely enriched our lives or will enrich them in the long run.

Culture of saying thank you

For many years, it seemed that saying “thank you” had gone a bit out of fashion. This trend has been reversed during the pandemic. It is nice to see that people are once again saying thank you more frequently and, above all, more consciously. And I don’t mean clapping health workers on the balcony, but the direct sincere expression of gratitude even for what seem to be just little things. This form of appreciation gives me the feeling that we are moving closer together emotionally, despite social distancing. This is something I don’t want to miss in the new year and which I will make a point of emphasis to continue. Hence my appeal to you: If you liked something, feel free to say so. Anyone is happy to receive a sincere “thank you.” This costs nothing and makes both sides happy.

Reassessing what’s important

Sacrifices and restrictions can also bring about good things. We all want to go out again, meet with friends, watch football together – things we just can’t do right now. How can that be positive? Well, the restrictions in our lives imposed by coronavirus also trigger insight and awareness and make us think about what is really important to us. This is because we cannot have or do something during lockdown (such as enjoying a great meal eating out) – or even more so because we now actually find the time for them.

Thank you

Anyone is happy to receive a sincere “thank you.”

This costs nothing and makes both sides happy.

Let me give you a simple example: The other day I had a some time on my hand at home and unpacked my bass guitar, which I had neglected for many years. I really enjoyed playing it so long and so full of inspiration that my fingers hurt in the end. This is something I normally wouldn’t have done because I just wouldn’t have had the time. But by playing the bass guitar I realized how important making music is to me and from now on I will find more time to do it again. The current situation does help us to reassess what is important and set new priorities for the future. And you might agree with me that the following question can now be answered easily: What is really important to me?

Jahr 2020 good news

The new pragmatism

In my most recent post on this blog I wrote about working in internal communications. Boiling down things to what is necessary and feasible is the key to success in many areas of one’s professional life. And that’s something we will take with us into the time after the pandemic. The will to overcome established routines and make everything a little more straightforward, faster and also more digital will continue to help us in the future. It’s always amazing to see what actually works when it has to.

But why is that? „If we are no longer able to change a situation, we are asked to change ourselves,” said the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Emil Frankl. The fact that we simply have to accept the pandemic as a framework results in an astonishing capacity for change and a new pragmatism in many areas. So let’s take the resulting momentum with us into the new year.

Remaining optimistic

These are my top 3 insights that I gratefully take with me from 2020, even though I am glad to consign 2020 to the dustbin of history and welcome 2021. I would like to close with another quote, which has been attributed to Oscar Wilde and has stuck with me: “In the end, everything is going to be fine. And if it’s not fine, it’s not the end.” With this in mind, I hope that you will keep a positive attitude, see the glass half full and start the new year with optimism. I look forward to it. Stay safe and healthy!


Frank Ehlert

Frank Ehlert


Frank Ehlert is the head of the Internal Communications and Corporate Publishing team in TÜV Rheinland’s newsroom. He studied business administration and is a creative mind and lateral thinker. Frank Ehlert has lived with his family in Cologne for many years. He is a fan of 1. FC Köln, the football team from Cologne, plays guitar and is known there to turn up the volume.

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