It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a year unlike any other.

The financial, social, physical and mental health challenges we have all faced over the last nine months have been the most difficult we have seen for 80 years. And it feels like no amount of past experiences, both business and personal, could have prepared us for it.

But throughout this time, we have demonstrated great strength in our support for neighbours, frontline health workers and in complying with difficult and ever-changing restrictions. As we plan for what Christmas may look like with fewer family members than usual, we are once again having to dig deep to comply with the limits being placed on our lives. I hope that this community spirit and selfless attitudes towards our peers is something we will retain as we emerge from this pandemic.

I would also like to see the heightened resilience demonstrated during these times become a key trait in 2021 and beyond. However, to quote our national sports captains at our annual conference last month: “If we can only build resilience by experiencing hardship, many of us may well opt-out”.

We must not underestimate resilience, as it is this faith in our ability to survive adversity that makes us daring and innovative leaders.

During conference, we asked delegates how they were feeling about many issues, but some of the most telling results came from our Brexit questions. Sixty nine per cent of our audience said they were not prepared for Brexit, while two-thirds said they would benefit from clearer guidance both generally, and specifically around supply chains, to help them prepare for the post-Brexit world.

Coronavirus and its devastating impact have understandably been at the top of the agenda for everyone, but this has meant that Brexit preparations have not been given the attention they deserve – from anyone. And as we see light at the end of the tunnel with news of successful vaccines emerging, we must learn from our experiences.

Nelson Mandela once said: “I never lose, I either win or I learn.” We should adopt his mindset to be better prepared if we are ever faced with another monumental challenge like that we have faced this year. For there will be a next time – whether it is another pandemic, financial crisis, or climate-related challenge.

I believe 2021 needs to be a year of collaboration and improvement. We must focus on the young. As Benny Higgins said at conference: “We cannot allow the young generation to pay the biggest price of the pandemic.” If we work to improve the alignment between business and academia, we can ensure that our young adults are reaching employment level with the necessary skills to thrive.

I hope we recognise the benefits that life-long learning, re-skilling, and up-skilling have brought to light this year, and that self-improvement in these areas continues to be a priority for individuals and businesses alike.

Training has been more accessible than ever, with webinars and conferences moving online, and while some events certainly work better in person, ensuring accessibility for all should be a focus for many in the future.

Our organisation has seen a marked increase in demand for training in governance during the crisis, as directors realise that they are under-prepared and under-qualified to handle the various challenges facing their businesses.

One of our biggest takeaways from 2020 must be that we were, and continue to be, in this together. That should give us confidence and encouragement to build a stronger economy as we transition out of the pandemic, and indeed, out of the European Union.

Malcolm Cannon is national director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland