2019 Reflections: Seven Lessons for Success

2019 has been transformative. I have had so many new experiences and learned from so many folks. In the following paragraphs, I share what I have learned in 2019 and what my 2020 initiatives will be. My hope is that you might see yourself in some of my writings and share some of your insights in the comments below!

⭐️ Lifelong Learning has always been something I enjoy. I continue to teach new courses, encourage my students to research topics from a variety of disciplines and I learn with my students as we explore a diverse array of subjects. However, in 2019, my experiences were not only new and collaborative, but international! To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, I have embarked on a US/UK cross cultural study of feminism across decades and across the pond. With a small group of students, we are writing an article and creating a short documentary. 2020 brings new insights, new relationships and new possibilities.

⭐️ Doing vs. Planning go hand in hand. All good plans change to accommodate the challenges in real time. However, flying by the seat of our pants, can only take us so far. Plan & do. Revise and action. Assess and revise. They say it takes five years to become a great teacher. I would say it takes five tries at teaching, revising and reteaching the same course to be at the top of your game.

⭐️ Collaboration results in a better outcome. There are so many talented folks who think differently, have diverse experiences, and want to make a difference. My newest initiative, The Transformative Educator, comes from a desire to work with as many individuals and groups as I can to make a positive impact in this world.

⭐️ Strong Leadership is a delicate balance between dreaming big and accomplishing great things while building the skill level of those who are working with you on a project. Great leaders lead by example but are not the only ones doing all of the team’s work. My leadership goals have shifted from a primary purpose of accomplishing great things to building the next generation-even if the results are not excellent on the first go round. Perfectionism holds us back. 2020 will focus on imperfect action by team members as we build toward the future.

⭐️ Problem-Solving & Responsibility are both a skill set and a mindset. When I was a younger person, I would get extremely anxious, hurt and down about a problem that would present itself. I felt that I wasn’t making the best effort if problems cropped up. In 2019, I hit a new stride. I now know that when whatever happens, “I got this”. While I try to help whomever I can, I cannot solve everyone’s problems. I have a responsibility to do the best I can and methodically move through problems, but I am not the cause nor the solution to everything. 2020 will be a powerful year as I take on what is my responsibility and leave all the rest for others to navigate.

⭐️ Power Circle are the five people that are closest to you. Throughout my adulthood, those closest to me have been troubled with mental health, relationship and financial issues. I carried my own challenges but chose to take on and help solve the problems of those who surrounded me. The weight has been enormous and I feel that 2019 was a turning point. While I would never turn my friends away, I have given those troubled less of my time and have nourished friendships with other high performance doers. Jim Rohn tells us “You are the average of five people you spend the most time with.” My power circle is my choice for what kind of person I will become in 2020 and beyond.

⭐️ Mindset Shift & Finding Expert Help will be my focus of 2020. My past behaviors tell me that I am more likely to struggle alone learning a new skill or concept than seeking out expert help. I have made myself available to help others looking for expert advice in creating and facilitating transformative learning experiences in their business, classroom or agency and now it is time for me to hire folks to help me find and support those that want to learn with me. I will need experts to help me with website, graphics, automation, and other tech services. No one can do it all.

In 2020, I will be in Mexico, United Kingdom, Ireland and throughout the United States working with individuals and organizations sharing my knowledge and expertise about transformative learning experiences, teaching, leadership and curriculum. Here’s to 2020 where the world will open up and we get to make a difference together! Please leave your comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Let’s progress together in 2020! Click here to join my new initiative:


Published by Maria Sanelli, Ed.D.

Educator, Author, Professor of History Education, Diversity Specialist; Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute at Kutztown University.

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