Across the web, blogs are adding a stockpile of the traditional end of year postings, many of them reflecting on the year that is drawing (at least on the office calendar) to a close. Many will also doubtless remember to mention – some authentically, some out of a sense of duty – that we are in the ‘season of goodwill’.

As the end of year reviews descend upon us, the BBC is not alone in wondering if the tumults of 2011 will mark its place in history alongside such iconic years as 1956, 1968 or 1989. The future is no more ours to see than anyone else’s, but there’s a practical and sensible rejoinder to the Beeb’s musings.

Whether these now legendary years really were significant turning points or not, life did go on afterwards – even if no-one is currently proposing documentaries about 1957, 1969 or 1990. 1957, for example, gave us the birth of the European Common Market, the launch of Sputnik I, the introduction of the S&P 500 stock market, the resignation of Anthony Eden, and the re-opening of the Suez Canal. And two Scousers called Lennon and McCartney apparently met on a bus.

1969 was even flatter: men walked on the moon, 2 computers exchanged messages over ARPAnet (later to evolve into the Internet), France withdrew from NATO, the UK abolished the death penalty, the first American troops withdrew from Saigon, the US Supreme Court ordered immediate desegregation, and Harvard University scientists announced the isolation of a single gene. Nothing to see here, move along now …

2012 will undoubtedly bring each of us new challenges to face, new situations to understand, adapt to and operate within, but if we are looking for the remarkable we should focus not on the year but on the people about to enter it.

There are two enduring elements of Christmas Day in the UK: the Queen’s Speech and a special edition of Doctor Who. Age, long service and wisdom aside – none of which we should flippantly discount, even in light entertainment – these two seemingly wholly different beings share in a common message: their belief in the ability of people to achieve remarkable things and inspire others to do likewise. As The Doctor said in one recent episode:

There’s no such thing as an ordinary human.”

Watching it, I was transported from my sofa to a business meeting some years ago where a team of external consultants from different suppliers and disciplines had been gathered to help the company in question wrestle order and direction from the jaws of apparent chaos. The company’s MD was admirably candid in his assessment of the current situation, while remaining delighted – if surprised – at the quality of the work that the team produced. To which an occupational psychologist replied (with the compassionate perception of Her Majesty or The Doctor):

But they’re people. And people do the most remarkable things, given half a chance!”

Indeed they do; the human race has been doing remarkable things for centuries, whether or not the year in question has been a historic landmark. As the working year draws to an end, you may not have an audience of over 10 million for any closing words you may feel moved to offer, but we’d suggest building on the seasonal tradition of goodwill.

Take a few moments to acknowledge the efforts of those around you, congratulate them on the remarkable things – good or small – that they have achieved and that they have helped others to achieve. And may we all welcome 2012 as an opportunity to be remarkable and encourage others to be remarkable too.

Through the years 
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

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