2008 was a year of reckoning. The chickens came home to roost. Our bad behavior, from a rowdy adolescence in the 90s to the reckless drunkenness of the new century, boomeranged.
The great thing about our way of counting days gives us 365 new ones to either continue the orgy or return to sensible fun and frolic. For me, like most people, the latter includes a balance of work and play, success and failure.
Remember that scene in The Ten Commandments when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai to find the Israelites partying in front of the golden calf created by Dathan from all their gold? We're having a similar moment.
It's time to start from scratch.
For those of us in technology and particularly in the online corner, we can discipline ourselves to put the user first. If we're startups looking to leverage the Web for social purposes or to introduce new tools, we can dedicate ourselves to putting the user first. If we're bankers or brokers, we can be the first to admit that the past years were never about making everyone wealthy, they were about participating in an institutional practice of elitism. If we're government types, we can acknowledge that we have crumbling physical and financial infrastructures because we abandoned that rarely-used descriptor, civil service.
We can all examine the past years and learn what we must — including the invaluable lessons taught by countless leaders who sacrificed and saved — to make this the first year of a new historical period. The Year of the User. A focus on our customers, clients and stakeholders will save us not only from the navel-gazing and the poor-me-ing, that focus will point us to higher levels of innovation and performance. Because when we think about what our buyers value and need, we counteract the all too human obsession with self, and we wind up taking care of ourselves in the process.