I had a really hard year back in 2017.
It was filled with the loss of close family which left a lingering mark on both my personal and professional lives. The couple years that followed saw my business falling apart and then a promising new job ending with a layoff.
And by the end of 2019, the mix of depression, uncertainty, anxiety, and entrepreneurship had darkened my outlook on life and spiked my cynicism.
I shared my troubles with a mentor, who sent me a framed inside joke. And stuck to the back of the frame, written in type, were these words…
“What you do is important.”
I know for many of you, 2021 was a shitty year.
Undoubtedly, some of you have lost close family or friends. Our daily lives have been flipped upside down with a massive jolt of change. We see constant reminders of unjust and unfair systems still thriving in our contemporary society.
The hope and optimism surrounding the vaccines has soured a bit with every new variant. And then there is the significantly large anti-vax movement.
The beginning of the pandemic was hard, but this sustained social anxiety and trauma wears on the soul.
- if you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to accomplish this past year.
- if you have no clue what your plan should be for next year.
- if you don’t know who you’re supposed to be.
- if you feel stuck.
- if you feel lost.
Tomorrow is a new day.
And if tomorrow doesn’t work out, well, there will be another.
I never cease to be amazed that there are people who read this blog. People who appreciate the cartoons that I draw. People who share what I write with their friends and colleagues.
And when I start to feel lost, I think about all of you.
Because you care.
It’s why you’re here. It’s why you can appreciate and share my cartoons.
Most of your audiences are not demanding cartoons from your presentations or better charts from your reports. They’re not looking to you to provide them with more engagement.
But it’s not enough for you to just present or report. To just show up at 9 and then leave at 5 (metaphorically speaking). You believe in your work, and you want your audience to be engaged.
You want your work to have an impact. To change the way your audience thinks or acts based on your collected evidence.
So you put in the work to try to make that happen.
Evidence is insufficient.
It’s not enough to just know something to be true if you can’t convince anyone else to hear what you say or trust what you share. Especially if the evidence you are sharing is counter to your audience’s beliefs. Just think about all the ways you can finish this sentence.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary…
- many republican politicians continue to claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
- global warming is seen by large sectors of the population as not a man-made problem.
- many Americans hold onto the fictional historical perspectives they learned in grade school.
- some communities hit hard by COVID-19 continue to downplay the virus and refuse even the most basic precautions.
While evidence is insufficient, it is indeed necessary.
We can’t change this world for the better without it. We need you to engage, collect, analyze, and support our communities, programs, and changemakers.
Our role as data people and evaluators can sometimes be thankless, lonely, and frustrating. Our best work is not always celebrated. Our audiences can be hard to engage.
But whatever happens in this new year. Don’t stop trying.
That’s the only way to fail completely.
I believe in you.
What you do is important.
Till next year,