208-376-1701 bryan@bryanyager.com

First a quote: “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

Good morning and happy Monday!

It has been over a year since most of our lives were turned upside down, and inside out, by the Coronavirus now called Covid-19. Do you remember when the pandemic became “real” for you personally?  I certainly do.

I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing. For me, it became personal on Thursday, March 5th, 2020, around 6:00 pm EDT. I was in St. Augustine, Florida preparing for the final day of a 4-day workshop with a couple of colleagues. My wife was flying to Florida the next morning to join me for a long weekend in the sun relaxing before our team would launch another workshop for a new cohort of participants the following week.

We were informed that night, before dinner, the decision had been made to cancel the workshop scheduled the following week. Instead of Becky joining me in Florida, I was on a flight home to Boise the next morning. It was an eerie and unplanned flight. It was also the last flight I would take for quite a while. Little did I know that workshop was also one of the last face-to-face events I would facilitate for several months.

(In the big picture, I had little to complain about. About six weeks after that flight home, the disease would claim the lives of a family friend’s mom, brother, and uncle, all within a matter of weeks. A hard reminder that it is always wise to keep things in perspective.)

While it is probably too early to declare complete victory over C-19, I suspect most people are sensing a “return to normal” is approaching in the weeks and months ahead.  Already, more mask mandates are being lifted in more places, arenas are welcoming larger crowds, restaurants are returning to full operation in more places, workers are returning to plants and offices, and I can tell you firsthand, airplanes and airports are full. People are traveling again!

I propose now is a good time for all of us to pause and reflect on lessons learned over the past 15 months. I see this as important for each of us, both as individuals, and as members of teams, departments, organizations, and communities.


The time is approaching where it might be wise to bring your team together for a meeting or “mini-retreat” for two primary objectives: 1) appreciation; and 2) learning. (of course, in many places, this may still need to be done virtually). The agenda might include:

  • A sharing of appreciation for the hard work, stress, losses, and sacrifices made by all.
  • A celebration of results and accomplishments achieved under difficult circumstances.
  • An “after-action review” exploring:
    – what did we do well? As leaders? As a team? As an organization?
    – what could we have done better?
    – what did we learn?
    – what can we apply going forward?
  • How can we go “forward to better” as opposed to “back to normal?”


I also see this approach as important for each of us as individuals, in both our personal and professional lives. Reflecting on the past year:

  • Where has your thinking been helpful and constructive?
  • Where, and/or how, did you exhibit:
    – leadership?
    – support for others?
    – build hope and/or create optimism?
    – solve problems for your team, company, or community?
  • What have you learned about your personal ability to be flexible, handle stress and uncertainty, and/or, lead the way forward?
  • In what ways have you been a positive role model during the pandemic?
  • In what situations could you have handled yourself differently or better?

Wouldn’t be wonderful if we could use this moment in time to be both teachers and students? Wouldn’t it be great if we could collaborate on lessons learned in a way that would be beneficial for all?

Would you be willing to share your thoughts and lessons learned with my readers? If so, please take a few minutes to complete the survey below.  I invite you to pretend we’re collaborating on a new book; the working title is:

“COVID-19 University; 10 Things I Learned About Life and Leadership During a Pandemic.” 

If I get enough responses, I’ll publish our collective lessons learned in a future article. Currently, I’m proposing seven chapters in this fictional book: (You only need to answer the questions important to you.)

  1. Lessons I learned about myself.
  2. Lessons I learned about leadership during uncertain times.
  3. Lessons I learned about human behavior.
  4. Lessons I learned at work.
  5. Lessons I learned as a parent.
  6. Lessons I learned about life in general.
  7. Advice I would offer others about thriving in difficult circumstances.

Click here to share your lesson learned during C-19 pandemic.  

Thanks in advance for being willing to share your wisdom and lessons learned. I look forward to learning from you and sharing with others.

As always, how will you live, love, or lead, differently, or better this coming week?


Bryan Yager

“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”

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Bonus Quotes:

  • “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley 
  • “Man needs difficult time for reflection and personal growth.” – Lailah Gifty Akita 
  • “A growth mindset means focusing more on learning than knowing.” – Beth Comstock 
  • “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in the storm.” – Willa Cather 
  • “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.” – Mortimer Adler 
  • “Don’t go through life, grow through life.” – Unknown 
  • “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford 
  • “Learning is not compulsory… Neither is survival.” – W. Edwards Deming