Looking back so that you can look forward
It is the time of year when articles and blogs exhort you to reflect on what has gone well during the year.
Whilst it sounds cheesy – it can be a very powerful thing to do. And it doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. It can be as simple as opening your nearest notebook to the back, and spending the next ten minutes thinking about these three questions. The key is to write it down. Don’t just think it .. commit it to writing.
One approach I’ve seen (favoured by Marie Forleo and others) is to look back on:
What are you proud of during the year?
This can (and should) include the little triumphs as well as the huge accomplishments. And because life is more than just work, include life in its round.
We get so caught up in life, and in moving forward, we forget to look back in our constant striving to move forward.
It’s also important to see that there is growth and movement. Perhaps you’re not entirely where you want to be, but if there is movement forward, then that’s progress.
This year amongst the things I was proud of writing my second book, becoming a Sunday Times columnist and appearing on the radio for the first time. But there was also an unexpected joy in discovering that although my back is taking time to get back into running after an injury, that I now crave my very early morning walk first thing. Who knew?!
From a leadership perspective, this might be that you’ve started a new approach with one of your team that seems to be working. Or that you’ve started leadership coaching. Or perhaps you’ve watched one of your team grow and blossom. It might be that you’ve sorted out an issue that was affecting the team.
What mis-takes did you make and/or lessons did you learn?
This isn’t about beating yourself up – but rather – is there anything you can learn (particularly if there are some patterns that are starting to appear).
I always like to think about mistakes as mis-takes, things we missed on the first go but that gives us an opportunity to have another go. Sort of like when a movie is being shot, it’s rare to get the take right on the first go – it often takes many different takes to get it right.
This is an important one for leadership. If there are the same patterns appearing over and over again: conflict with one team member, a particular issue being raised over again, grumblings about your style – then it’s important to take the time to list it and reflect on the mis-takes/lessons. Of course, there may be a mis-take that you rectified during the year that ends up being on the proud list too.
What do you need to let go of?
There are stories and self talk we tell ourselves that just do not serve us well. Some of the letting go is being honest about those stories, and actively choosing to let go of them.
Some of the letting go is acknowledging that you’re never going to get to that project that has been sitting on the list all year. Bullet journaling has been a great way to help with this. If week after week you’re moving an item forward, then you need to be honest about why it’s not happening, deal with the barriers and then either let it go or make it happen!
There are also relationships and jobs and all manner of other things, that when reviewed are not serving their purpose anymore..
From a leadership perspective, this might be acknowledging that “I’m a dreadful public speaker” or “I’m just no good with people, give me a laptop any day” or any other of the myriad of stories we tell ourselves that stop us being the best leader that we can be.
I’m not a fan of a huge list of new year’s resolutions – particularly if they’re non specific and just serve to make you feel bad.
But there is something very powerful about saying: “these are two or three different areas that I am going to work on this year. This is where I would like to be at the end of the year, and these are the things I can do to make it happen.”
Remember, if you get stuck on this, a friend or a coach can be a great way to brainstorm ideas to move forward.
From a leadership perspective this might be about any number of different things.
Perhaps trying a new style – so a more coaching rather than directive style. Or it might be about learning (doing further study or accessing coaching or some other form or development). It might be about addressing a specific issue (becoming a better public speaker). It might be about addressing how well you develop your team. It might be about developing a specific skill (such as conflict resolution).
There is something about defining intent and making a plan that is very powerful. Write it down.
Remember too what we now know about change and the brain. It’s worth rereading this post and considering how that applies to your plan going forward.
2017 and beyond
Now the power of this. Put 5 minutes in your diary now. Preferably once a week, but if that’s not possible then every month. Go through the same process. What’s going well/what are you proud of? What are your mis-takes? What do you need to let go of? And how are you going on your plan? Do you need to tweak it at all?
If you want to chat this through, and talk about what it means for you and your leadership style in 2017, click here to make a time.
Until next year, happy leading!