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Lessons We Can Learn on Groundhog Day in 2021

How to emerge from a difficult year with courage and compassion for our colleagues, neighbors, and loved ones.

I have recently learned that Groundhog Day is something that is only celebrated in very cold regions of the United States. My colleagues from around the world have never heard of this tradition.

Every year on February 2nd — news organizations descend upon Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to observe a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil – if he sees his shadow and retreats back to his den, then we can expect six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, then spring will arrive early. Wikipedia says that Phil’s accuracy is somewhere between 30-40%, but it is still fun to dream of warmer days.

I remember as a kid being so excited for Groundhog Day – first because Phil is pretty cute, but secondly, I live in Minnesota and winter here is relentless and legitimately painful with wind chills often reaching -30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout January and February. I truly believe that NO ONE loves spring more than a Minnesotan!

But in 1993 – the meaning of Groundhog Day changed forever when a movie starring Bill Murray debuted. The story is about a disgruntled news reporter who was sent to cover Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. As an adult, in my own career, I can absolutely understand why this man would be so upset about having to cover this kind of story when he was trying to be taken seriously as a journalist.

Bill Murray’s character does not handle the career setback well and is an absolute jerk, but then magic happens, and he gets stuck in a time loop – he has to relive Groundhog Day over and over and over again. The same day with the same surroundings, the same people, and the same interactions.

Does this sound familiar?

Throughout the movie, as the journalist relives the day, he takes stock of his life and actions. Eventually, (spoiler alert) he resolves to become a better person and immediately takes actions to make that happen. He is nicer to people on the street, treats his colleagues with respect, and is kinder and more thoughtful with his love interest. This movie is incredible, and if you have not seen it, then I highly recommend it.

I think that 2021 is bringing even deeper meaning to Groundhog Day… many of us around the globe have been stuck in what feels like a time loop. COVID has locked us up in the same surroundings, with the same people, and the same interactions. Now, with the promise of a vaccine and some new global leaders, there is hope and we can see the end of our own time loop.

2021 is bringing even deeper meaning to Groundhog Day… many of us around the globe have been stuck in what feels like a time loop.

But what have we learned about ourselves during this time?

Have we used this time to reflect on where we are in our careers? Covering proverbial news stories that we think are beneath us – BUT in reality, could be life-changing with the right lens?

Have we considered the opportunity we have to become a better person, take accountability for our lives, and overall create a better world and environment for those around us – our colleagues, neighbors, and loved ones?

The last year has been incredibly difficult in so many ways, but my hope for us all on this Groundhog Day is that we see the shadow in us and not turn away in fear – but emerge into a better version of ourselves that interacts with the world with more courage and compassion.


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Kristina Iniguez

Kristina Iniguez is the former Head of Brand, PR, and External Communication at SHL. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work and ten years of experience leading and developing teams across public, private, and non-profit organizations. She is a creative visionary and strategist who utilizes careful listening and open collaboration to engage audiences in mission-centric organizations. She utilizes relationship-based techniques, like human-centered design, to build communication platforms that reach, educate, and engage key stakeholders. She is passionate about talent development because she believes that people are any organization's greatest asset. The more an organization holistically invests in its employees—the more they will succeed!