• Marion Burchell

2021 - the year that will be

As the year 2021 dawns, the promises and good intentions of a new year are thrusted on us as we self-impose the new beginnings of a better version of ourselves. To be healthier. To be happier. To be fitter… you get the picture!


Many of you know I always theme my years as a way of focusing on a specific intention. There has been the year of pushing personal boundaries, the year of adventure, the year of saying yes, the year of overcoming fear and so on. And each year I specifically undertake activities that help achieve that goal – some have been rather memorable indeed! Like skydiving at sunset over the Great Ocean Road, learning to kitesurf and talking my way into first class on a plane to interview Tony Fernandes and Sir Richard Branson.


This year had me stumped.


I pondered long and hard about what to theme 2021, until I remembered a speech I gave two years ago to open the school year at my old high school.


I was approached by one of the staff faculty who, through some good old fashioned Sherlock Homes sleuthing, managed to track me down. She extended the invitation and I graciously accepted.


The next month I spent torturously ponder what to say. What words of wisdom to extend to these bright young minds? What would I have wanted to hear or know many moons ago when I was at high school? What would have universal appeal given the broad spectrum of people and ages that would be in the audience?


It seemed ridiculous given I had spent an exhaustive number of hours over my professional career writing speeches for other people – CEOs, Directors General, Ministers – even for myself as a senior executive - yet this was different.


I find myself in the same space as I ponder deeply what to theme 2021.


Time can be a frustrating friend and yet also a much-needed lesson. Patience is a common companion of time, and in this instance, both have been present.


The challenge was clear. Opening the school year was the first time creating a personal speech – about life lessons, wisdom gained and inspiring people as they start their journey into a different phase of their life.


I could not bury myself in research or data to turn a phrase. I had to talk about me, my journey, my personal beliefs. It was going to intimate and incredibly authentic.


I find myself in the same position, for it is the first time I am uninhibited by the requirements and obligations of a position, role or employer.


So, I cast my mind back to the words spoken that morning opening the school year. They still hold true – perhaps even more so given the year that was 2020.


With challenges come opportunities

Your greatest challenges in life present you with the greatest opportunities – if you are brave enough to face them. Step up. Be seen. Be counted. Do not underestimate the value you bring to the table, or the life experiences that have forged your being. We all have a social obligation to each other to play our role – even if it makes us uncomfortable. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is something we should be au fait with given life is not so status quo anymore.


You are the architect of your own life

Regardless of what has happened in your past, your life and what you achieve is solely your responsibility. You can have any life you want. Decide, and make a start towards it. Create your own path through planning, mentors, continuous learning, unsatiable curiosity, and an unwavering belief in your vision for a better future.


The sum of your choices = your life

I have not met one person that has not suffered trauma in their life. Do not be a prisoner to it. You make your own life choices. If there is something that needs changing – change it.


I am reminded of the beliefs I use as a framework to guide life decisions, a couple of which are relevant here: being true to your authentic self, walking the talk, and being uncompromising on values.


With this in mind, I finally decided on the focus for 2021.


And so, my theme for 2021 is courageousness.


How will you challenge yourself in 2021?



About Marion

Marion is a highly experienced and accomplished strategy, innovation and leadership professional with a focus on the enterprise and government sectors. She is a trusted advisor to CEOs and senior executives, providing practical and pragmatic solutions to the challenges they face. Marion is the Managing Director at Azolla Holdings Pty Ltd, a Board member, thought leader and member of an international entrepreneur association.

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