Whether Hanukah, or Christmas, or just December is in your midst, this time of year always begs the question of where did the time go or for some what have we accomplished? Either question spurs introspection for those who lead a business, those who lead others, and certainly for all of us who lead ourselves. Yet thinking is merely the first step for veteran leaders and those who want to know how to become better leaders. In order to be pleased with these same thoughts on the next passing of a 12 month period, it pays to add a bit of substance to mere inner thoughts. What is your perspective on the events of this past year? What kind of preparation will you put forth in order to create, maintain or make changes for even more satisfaction? With that perspective and preparation in place, what plan will you make? Far beyond the concept of goals or resolutions, this exercise for a leader is more like a strategic plan for your future.
We had an election. We watched local, state, national and international events. We watched nations and people both struggle and thrive in the wake of new and passing leaders. Yet this is what crossed our screens. What crossed through our lives may have been friends, family members, new teammates, retiring employees, new product lines, new or less divisions, sales and quotas, and new or different relationships. What transpired in 2016 and if anything, what does it all mean…for you? Are there people you wish you knew better? Are there skills you now wish you did better? Are there places you wish to see? Are there efforts at work or at home that have shown a greater need? Looking back on a time period invokes a sense of perspective and often a sense of less emotion simple reflection than what was present at the actual moment of the occurrence. What did you learn? What did you find worked well? What did you find never needs be done again? Take a moment to reflect on events of the previous twelve months. Review your calendar to celebrate what you’ve done, but have forgotten. Scroll through old texts to see what’s been said. Gain, examine, and relish in a year’s worth of perspective.
With this abundance of data in hand and a viewpoint that benefits from the clarity of hindsight, it’s now time to prepare before making a plan. Preparation for improvement, discontinuation of certain things, or changes you’d like to see, is an important step before taking new actions. The preparation allows you to assimilate data from months gone by and make some decisions about what you might like to try. Whether you subscribe to the beliefs of a life-long learner, will be one of many in the gym in the first weeks of January, or are simply one who consistently strives to take this time as a signal to a new season, one can’t help but embrace the feeling of a somewhat new start when a new year begins. Leaders in the office prepare new budgets, new quotas, new visions in some cases or simply new plans in place to improve their own and their team’s development. Leaders in life look at goals and desires and look at what worked and what might now require something different.
It’s no surprise that planners, calendars, organizational books, apps, and devices experience record sales in the coming 3 to five weeks. The urge to plan one’s future is at a heightened state and as such, this is the step where most will start. A plan with limited examination of any past stats on what worked and what didn’t is merely a list of what one might want. The key question is how bad do you want it? Decisions to change are easy to make. Commitments to the actions we must take in order to see those changes are quite different. The plan is merely a record of thought given to your perspective and insights gleaned from preparation, but once complete with those two important steps, you’re ready to document your new intentions.
Between holiday celebrations, decorations, gatherings, fests of eating and present giving, whether surrounded by family, going solo this year, or moving at such a speed one is not sure you’ll have time to even breathe before 2017, it is quite common for even the most astute of leaders to put this plan, preparation, and perspective on the back burner. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, but if you wish to lead better, different, or more effectively, whether your work or your life’s work, it may be time for some changes. With complete confidence, I can say, your time, your efforts, and your results will be worth it!
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.