2020 - A year that everyone will remember.
The question is, how will you choose to remember it?!
How you choose to look back at 2020 will guide how you start 2021. Are you going to look back at all of the negatives from the year or are you going to look at the positives that came out of a tough year?
Let's quickly recap the year. Taekwondo America hosted its National Tournament in Dallas, Texas in January 2020 and none of us could have guessed that it would be our only in-person event for the year. (We didn't even know we would have to specify the fact it was "in-person.") When we returned from the National Tournament, we quickly turned our focus to the Midwest Regional Tournament to be held at Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 14, 2020. Then COVID-19 struck the Midwest hard and we had to cancel our Regional Tournament just two days before the event. March 13, 2020 is a day I will never forget because it was the day I closed the doors to my school not knowing what the future would hold. We started with recording YouTube videos of drills and classes for our students to do on their own time. It was all fun, new, and exciting....for the first few weeks. Then schools closed down and students moved to virtual school as we made the switch to Zoom video classes. Stores, restaurants, and roughly everything except the "essential businesses" were closed and we were all "quarantined" in our homes. We hosted our April testing via Zoom and quickly came up with new curriculum for our students to test with since they couldn't spar each other. We held a drive by awards ceremony where students stayed in their car and we used a grabber to "hand" them their new belt and certificate. In May 2020, Taekwondo America changed its Black Belt Conference from in-person to virtual with people logging in from all over the country. After 3 months of teaching taekwondo via a webcam and computer screen, we opened our doors to allow students to come in to the building for classes on June 9, 2020. That wasn't without several modifications like adding more mats, taking away chairs for parents, putting tape on the floor to space students out 9 feet from each other, checking temperatures as they come in the door, and requiring everyone to sign up for class in advance. As we started to resume in-person classes, we also continued to Zoom our classes for students who didn't feel comfortable coming in to the building. We held our testing in August with having the students test in person, but turned our Zoom camera on for family and friends to be able to watch, since we had to limit the number of people in the building. Our annual summer picnic was cancelled, but Taekwondo America gave us something to look forward to....the September National Tournament was going to be moved to a VIRTUAL tournament. This involved a tremendous amount of work from Taekwondo America school owners with several hours of preparation and training, but it concluded with over 1,200 competitors from across the country all being able to compete in a National Tournament safely from home. Move forward to October 2020 where we decided to cancel our annual Halloween party plans and modify it to mini Halloween parties where we could follow by all of the COVID-19 CDC guidelines. Soon after that, our annual skating party in December was also cancelled.
As you read through our taekwondo recap for 2020, you could focus on the negatives or you could look at how far we have come and what incredible tools we now have. We had three tournaments/camps cancelled altogether, two events get moved to virtual via Zoom, and three parties get cancelled or modified. It would be easy to get down, frustrated, sad, upset, and focus on the negatives of that but what good would that do? Look at it the positives! Our incredible organization was able to move a National event to an online platform. We were able to think on our feet and modify parties a few days before the event. We were able to put smiles on the faces of so many and give them something to look forward to when they needed it most.
In March 2020, we were thinking "how in the world am I supposed to teach taekwondo to students via a computer?!" As a school owner and small business owner, my thoughts could've very easily gone to the what ifs, but I didn't let it. By April 2020, we were practically experts on teaching taekwondo via a computer screen. Taekwondo America school owners came together and shared ideas, drills, helpful tips, and other things that they found worked or didn't work for them. The school owners came together and took turns teaching classes on a National level. They shared stories and fun games with each other to share with their students. They called and texted each other more than they ever had before because everyone was ready to help everyone.
How did we not know that Zoom was a thing and that it would be a wonderful addition to our taekwondo programs?! Students who did not feel safe coming into the building for classes, were able to still participate in class. Students who were not feeling well or who were quarantined for whatever reason were still able to participate in class. Families from all over the world were able to login and watch their loved ones test for their next belt. We wouldn't have known about this tool to add to our programs had we not been forced to move to virtual classes.
We, McClellan's Taekwondo Academy, lost 32% of our student population over the course of the shutdown March-June 2020. That is a substantial amount that would have any small business owner stressed out, but look at those students that did stay. Those became the families that would spend countless hours volunteering to check temperatures, give hand sanitizer, make sure proper procedures were followed by all in the building, wipe down and sanitize everything. The students and families all became closer through all of this and have truly made lifelong friends. They shared nothing but wonderful things with their friends and family, which helped us gain 89% of those students who we lost in brand new students. The positivity we kept would not have been possible without the support, love, and dedication of our MTA students and families. Thank you, because without you there would be no MTA today.
For the past two weeks, all I have heard is good riddance 2020, 2021 HAS to be better, and nothing good came from this year. I would completely disagree! I think a lot of good came from this year and it taught us a lot. We were able to slow down and spend more time with our families. We were able to find additional tools to add to our taekwondo program to make it even better. We came together as an organization to host the largest event we ever have, and doing it on a whole new platform nonetheless. We were able to look at what truly matters in our lives and the things we define as a "necessity." We came together as a taekwondo school to help each other financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and to help the school grow. Think about how many life lessons were learned in 2020 that not only apply to life, but to taekwondo!
As you look back on this year, it is very easy to think about all of the negative things that happened. Some individuals lost their job, which led to siginfiicant loss of income. Some families lost a loved one and some families even more than one. But, if you step back and think about it, it is easy to look back at the year and focus on the negative things that happened. This isn't something unique just because 2020 brought along a global pandemic.
Choose to start 2021 by reflecting on the positives last year brought us, the good things that came out of a bad situation, and the friendships we made. Look forward to 2021 not as "it HAS to be better," but with a mindset of "what can I learn this year." Life isn't about being a Positive Pauly all the time. I, myself, prefer to be a Realistic Randy. But life isn't about being a Negative Nelly all the time either.