8 Powerful Lessons from 2020

NOT a few persons ask me, “Bo, what will 2021 look like?

Will it be better or will it be worse?”

People are afraid.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve read in social media, “If only I can cancel 2020, I will…”

Hey, I get where this sentiment is coming from. I’ve got friends who lost a mother, a father, a grandmother, a grandfather, a spouse, a sibling. I know of people who lost their jobs, their businesses, even their homes. Depression and anxiety became rampant.

But today, I want to give a different perspective. I believe 2020 gave us amazing gifts. Presents that were wrapped in very ugly boxes and packing paper. But if you open them, you discover gold.

Today, I want to share with you 8 golden lessons I learned in 2020.

They are not new lessons. I knew them before. I’ve preached them many times. But 2020 cast a spotlight on these old truths and raised them up from “this is nice” to “this is essential”. In a gist: “Do them or you die.”

Oh, by the way, these are just my lessons.

I want you to write down yours. Because I believe God taught you powerful stuff that only you can learn.

In the next few days, carve out undisturbed time to sit down, get your notebook, and write down the powerful lessons you’ve picked up this year. Chew on them. Meditate on how you can bring them to 2021.

Are you ready? Here’s my first one…

Lesson 1: ‘Put People Over Things’

I know. This is obvious. But 2020 made it even more obvious.

Because of the lockdown, my friend, for the first time in his life, asked, “Why do I have 26 pairs of shoes?”

Another one had the same realization when she looked at her handbags in her room—displayed on multiple shelves. “Why do I need all these things?”

At the end of the day, we realize that things don’t make us happy. Instead, Happy relationships make us happy.

Love is our oxygen.

Hermie Morelos, a dear friend and long-time leader at The Feast, told me, “Bo, a miracle happened in my family. Before the Pandemic, my siblings and I would have reunions perhaps once or twice a year. But this year, we began meeting online every single day. We would zoom at 3:00 p.m. We would pray together, share together, cry together, laugh together.”

The Pandemic brought them closer like never before.

Question: Did you grow closer with your family this 2020?

If the answer is no, it’s not too late.

Make it happen.

Which brings me to the second golden gift…

Lesson 2: ‘Tend Your Relationships Like Gardens’

The same beautiful miracle happened with my wife and two sons. Because of the lockdown, we’ve never spent more time with each other than this year. We talked and talked and talked…

It was surreal.

So, my heart broke when people wrote to me, “This lockdown is horrible. Because I can’t stand my husband…” or “father” or “mother” or “sister”.

One person said, “I just want to run far, far away. But I am trapped.”

I was talking with Karen Davila a few days ago. She told me, “The Pandemic was not an equalizer, it was an amplifier. It amplified what you already have.”

She was referring to economics. The Pandemic revealed the wealth of the rich and the poverty of the poor. I agree.

But I realized you can apply this to relationships too. If your relationships were strong, chances are high that the Pandemic made it stronger. But if your relationships were weak, the Pandemic made them weaker.

This year, a lot of my friends became plantitos and plantitas. So many became instant gardeners. But this was also the year when people realized that their
relationships were their first gardens.

We all realized, “If I don’t care for my relationships, they will die.”

Work on your relationships.

Be intentional with your conversations.

Express your love for each other.

Lesson 3: ‘Slow Down and You’ll Reach

Your Destination Faster’ Pre-Pandemic, I’d hop on a plane every single month. And if I’m not traveling, I’d go through four hours of traffic in the biggest parking lot in the world which we call EDSA.

Then, in one snap, the Pandemic erased a huge part of that. It forced me to slow down. And BAM! I had this enormous time in my hands to be with family, to sleep, to exercise, and to do the work I love. I felt more at peace. And became even more productive. And gave me more opportunities to practice the next lesson…

Lesson 4: ‘Celebrate Simple Joys’

One of the highlights of my day are my mornings.

When I wake up, I’d go to my backyard, bask in the warmth of the sun, and breathe. I inhale and fill my lungs with God’s Love. Every time I do that simple activity, I feel like I’ve won the Lotto. Every single day.

How much does that cost? Zero.

When I hold hands with my wife, and get energized in her embrace, how much does that cost?

When I sing songs with my sons and laugh with them, how much does that cost?

I know this is a cliché, but the best things in life are free.

This truth is intimately connected to the next one…

Lesson 5: ‘Get a Ph.D. in Gratitude’

To be considered an expert, especially in Education, you have to have a Ph. D.—a degree as Doctor in Philosophy—an academic or professional degree that qualifies you to teach your chosen subject at university level or to work in a specialized position in your field.

In the same manner, aim to be the top expert in gratitude. Study gratitude. Cultivate it. Nurture it. Practice it. Master it. Get a doctorate degree in gratitude.

Because being grateful is the most important life skill in the world. Gratitude is the most underrated Super Power. Gratitude gives birth to the best of the best character traits you need to win in life. If you’re grateful, you’re happy, you’re humble, you’re kind, you’re generous, you’re loving…

Let’s move to something very practical.

Lesson 6: ‘Get Ready for the Rainy Days’

Let me wear my “financial mentor” hat. This year, people realized how important it is to have an emergency fund. For 20+ years now, I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops. You must have an emergency fund equivalent to six months of your expenses stashed in a place that’s easy to withdraw. If you’re older than me, your emergency fund should cover 12 months. Because rainy days will always come. Protection is also very important. My sisters and brother-in-law got COVID and were hospitalized. Their bill was half a million. Each. But because of Philhealth and health insurance, they paid only P5,000. Sadly, many don’t have this protection.

Some lost their loved ones. Some of those who passed away were the income-earners for the family. If they didn’t have insurance, their families were not only grieving from the loss of a loved one, but also from the loss of their source of income.

Here’s my final question: How many income streams do you have? Most Filipinos have only one income stream—their salaries, period. I encourage you to have at least three, better more. First, keep your day job. Second, start investing and create passive income. Third, start a sideline or side hustle. Sell something! Fail in it, learn from it, and reinvent. My next lesson may be the most difficult…

Lesson 7: ‘Go to Where the Ball Is Going’
Wayne Gretzky was a superstar ice hockey player, and when asked why he was so good, he said, “I don’t go to where the puck is, I go to where the puck is going.”

For decades, I’ve always asked myself the question, “Where is the world going? Let’s go there now.”

Fifteen years ago, we already started a strong online ministry, creating a virtual community that sent our spiritual devotionals via email. People didn’t understand why we were cannibalizing our printed material and placing them online for free, but we knew this was the future.

Fifteen years ago, all my little businesses were already doing “work from home” (WHF). We had no offices. Partly because I had no money to rent an office. But when the Pandemic came, our 200+ employees continued WFH without skipping a beat.

Fifteen years ago, we started a homeschool organization. We saw that Education would be going to go through cataclysmic changes, and one of them was moving towards homeschooling. Because of the Pandemic, our organization grew by 300%.

Here’s the rule again: Go to where the ball is going. Now. If you’re early and you’re all alone in that place, wait a bit. Be patient. The ball will come to you.

Many years before the Pandemic, the larger Feasts were streamed over the Internet. Because we wanted to reach the entire world. So, when the Pandemic came, the shift from physical to online gatherings was not a big deal.

The Feasts were ready.

In the past 40+ years, we’ve also never bought a property for our spiritual gatherings, even if so many were egging us to do so. Reason: We felt God wanted us to be nimble. To travel light in our missionary journey, unencumbered by land and the costs of maintaining buildings. So that we can go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do. When the Pandemic came, we realized how a building would have been an emotional and financial burden to us.

Seven years ago, we also created a different kind of Feast—they were so small, we didn’t even have to rent halls or cinemas. They could meet in homes, offices, schools, coffee shops, prisons, drug rehabs—and during the Pandemic, in a zoom meeting. We were flexible. And we discovered that indeed, the most powerful person—or group—in any room is the one that is most flexible. Finally…

Lesson 8: ‘Your Greatest Blessing Is To Be a Blessing’

Every day, whenever my little family is around a meal, and I see this delicious food on the table, I have this disturbing question in my mind, and it gnaws my insides. I ask, “Why do I have food and others don’t?” It’s almost like I feel guilty. I’m embarrassed that I’m blessed but others aren’t. I know. Some people say I’m stupid to feel this way. “Go see a psychiatrist, dude. You’ve got issues.”

They’re probably right.

But I also think a part of it may be good for my soul too because I can’t stand it that life is unfair. I can’t stand it when I see human suffering. If I can enjoy a simple comfortable life, then others should too. And every single day of my life, I’m going to work hard so that everyone around me—those within my circle of influence—can have what I have.

That’s why I’m happy that 2020 gave The Feast many opportunities to serve the suffering. Because of the Pandemic, a volcano eruption, and three super typhoons, many needed practical love. And various Feasts all over the country gave away “God’s Love made edible” and fed thousands of hungry people.

And we discovered the exquisite joy of being a blessing.

You Choose What Kind of Year You’ll Have

So, will 2021 be better or worse?

I’m convinced that the only intelligent answer is, “It depends.”

If you do not forget the lifechanging lessons of 2020, and apply them every day this coming year, 2021 will be the best year of your life.

That’s my prayer for you.

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez


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