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Farewell to a decade of lessons

This New Year's Eve marks more than the end of a tumultuous year for the economy and for business - it marks the end of the first decade of the 21st century. And the very first lesson was learned as the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve 2000. The computers that run everything, from the world's financial systems, operations and security to our personal computers, didn't stop working. Y2K doomsday concerns didn't happen. Yes, this decade was about surviving, beginning with the Y2K computer clock scare to the worst global economic crisis/depression of our times. There was 9/11 that taught us that America is vulnerable to terrorist attack and how one horrific act can instill lasting fear and uncertainty across a nation. America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were major lessons to learn.

No matter how you look at it, as business leaders, the last year of this decade taught us the most. Our leadership abilities were pressure-tested in every way. We learned how avoiding tough decisions can be costly. We learned how to make do with less. Much less. We learned the true meaning of "sense or urgency." Without question, leading a company through the next decade is doing to be even more demanding and unforgiving.

The good news is that every lesson learned over these past 10 years is priceless - no matter how painful it was. The question that will be answered in the next decade is how well you learned your lessons. This is where the concept and thinking of no-compromise leadership enters the mix. Melding all of those priceless lessons into your leadership thinking and behavior requires personal discipline, commitment, focus, tenacity, courage and integrity. It's hard work because leading a company is hard work - and the best and most cherished rewards always come from hard work.

If you survived the decade, you did OK and, despite whatever challenges linger, you're still in the game while many others are not. If you're coming out of the decade thriving and with a full head of steam, you understand no compromise. You're ready to learn more lessons.

To wrap up this 52nd Monday Morning Wake-Up for 2009, I have a simple request. Close your computer, iPhone, Blackberry or other smart phone. Turn off the noise of the world around for just 60 contemplative minutes. Find a quiet place, preferably one where you can look out at the trees and sky, and reflect on the lessons you learned over this decade. Reflect on the tough stuff and definitely savor the good stuff - the wins, the proud moments and the breakthroughs that occurred on your leadership watch. Take this time to acknowledge that you did well. You earned it.

The next Monday Morning Wake-Up will be on January 4th - four days into the game called 2010.

From all of us at Strategies, we wish you a profoundly happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership


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