If you’re like me (and millions other around the country), this coming week you’ll be taking a minute to reflect on your blessings and give thanks. But what can we be thankful for, in a year as hard as 2020 has been?

As a nation, we’ve faced incredible challenges. First, the pandemic turned our lives upside down with shutdowns, quarantines, and fear. Then the death of George Floyd sparked intense racial unrest in our cities. Then, we waded into a contentious election that further highlighted the deep divides in our country. It’s been one thing after the other, and the year isn’t even over yet. The only thing to be thankful for about 2020 is that it’s almost over, right?

Well, it all depends on your perspective.

Yes, we’ve faced some very hard things—but many of us have used these challenges to adapt and make a bigger impact in the lives of those around us. As difficult as it’s been, I’m personally grateful for the challenges faced, the obstacles overcome, and the new things I’ve learned that will make the world better as we keep moving forward.

Here are three things I’m grateful for in 2020.

1. The reinvention of education

Educators across America have innovated like crazy this year, reinventing almost everything they do to serve students. Amidst the fearful early months of the pandemic, teachers provided a calm and consistent presence in their students’ lives—even if it was via a screen. Administrators pivoted and then pivoted again, working hard to keep pace with constantly changing information and guidelines. And through it all, our education system figured out how to do remote learning on a scale beyond all imagination. That’s something to be thankful for.

2. The ability to adapt

At my own company, we’ve also adapted to a whole new way of doing business. We went from a packed in-person speaking schedule to suddenly having to do everything virtually. From virtual PD and keynotes to remote consulting meetings, we had to figure it all out as we went. It was a huge learning curve, but I’m proud of the way my team scaled it. The ability to adapt has been crucial to our success.

3. The paradigms we are shifting

Our progress in shifting the paradigm in education and workforce development has been accelerated this year, as the old systems faltered amidst the crisis. Now more than ever, people are thinking about alternatives to the college-for-all mindset. Apprenticeships, internships, certification programs, industry credentials, associate degrees—there are so many great pathways that young people can take. The traditional college pathway is valuable, but it’s not the best or only choice for everyone. Every career training option should be on the table, for every student. We’re closer to that goal now than we were at the beginning of the year. 

It’s really easy to complain about this past year, and there’s certainly a place for venting. But don’t forget to be grateful, too. The things we have learned now will serve us well into the next decade. 2020 has given us a lot of growth—and at TFS Results, we’re thankful.