We don’t know what kind of year you’ve had to date but whatever it’s been, now is a great time to review how the year has been for you in the context of being a leader.
One thing to keep in mind is that success in any endeavour doesn’t always take a straight line. Walt Disney, for example, was fired from a job in an animation studio after one week because he ‘lacked imagination’. He didn’t agree with this so formed is own animation studio but that collapsed. He eventually got Disney Studios up and running successfully but his dramas didn’t stop there. He was turned down by more than 300 banks when he was seeking funding for Disneyland in California.
There were many points along the way that he could have given up but ultimately they led him to where he wanted to go. So many successful people, including the likes of Thomas Edison and Madonna, often say that many more people could be successful if they just didn’t give up so soon.
So if you still haven’t got the results you were hoping for in 2019, hang in there, you may be closer than you realise. And if you did get the results you were looking for, well done! And if you happen to be reading this long after it was published, anytime is a good time for a review so don’t think you have to wait till the end of the year to do this process.
Start with a blank sheet of paper and draw a large square, divided equally into four smaller squares.
If you are doing it with your team, you could also use a whiteboard or large sheets of butcher’s paper. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you’ll find that team members are energised by the process.
Depending on the preferences of the team members, you may even like to get them to complete each quadrant separately then share their results on a collective sheet. This gives everyone their own ‘takeaway’ that they can reflect on personally in their own time.
In the top left square, write down all the achievements you or the team has made in the year just gone. If you have multiple teams, you can even gamify it and award a prize for the team with the most achievements. This makes a big difference as it encourages them to dig deep and think of achievements that they otherwise might not have.
In the top right square, write down all the lessons learnt from these achievements. This could include things like a mindset shift, something you learned about a key stakeholder that you didn’t know before, processes that you’ve developed or improved, and so on. These lessons can be tactical or strategic. They can be personal or interpersonal. They can be team based or stakeholder related.
Some reflective questions that could help with this process include:
Would I do anything differently?
Did it go the way I thought it would go?
Did we hit our targets on the dates we expected to?
In the bottom left quadrant, list the mistakes, challenges or obstacles you came up against during the year.
Do this without judgement. Mistakes are often an indication that you’ve been operating outside your comfort zone and have stretched your repertoire of behavior. These are good things because if you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll restrict growth, creativity and innovation.
If it helps, you can think of the mistakes as missteps that have led you to a different way of looking at something, and that's all they are; it's just not the step that you expected to take.
As you can guess, the bottom right quadrant is where you’ll list the lessons learned from the mistakes that you made.
This is where we’d invite you to focus a lot of your attention because this is the real growth opportunity for you. Explore this from multiple angles again.
What did I/we learn about myself/ourselves either personally or professionally?
Did I/we learn anything about my/our relationships?
The way in which I/we operate?
What did I/we learn about other people?
Other tasks, teams, divisions, etc.
As we mentioned already, this process can energise your team, or you if you are doing it yourself, and invite an opportunity to shift perspectives, especially if there’s a sense of fatigue among team members.
Some of the lessons that we’ve learned during 2019 include:
The power of the breath. Nothing shifts energy or combats fatigue more than a bit of conscious breathing. We use it personally and with clients, whether we are working with them one-on-one or in groups. Our go-to experts for all things breathing are Shane and Angie Saunders from Breathe Me.
The power of a consistent morning routine. Your routine can be whatever works for you but we encourage you to include some reflective and/or meditative processes. These can be incredibly powerful in setting you up for the day.
The power of acceptance. One model that we use in our coaching is the Awareness, Acceptance, Action change model. The Acceptance stage is about accepting things as they are without the need to change them. Ironically, this sets the stage for change to happen, primarily because you reduce resistance to what’s going on.
We are all ‘works in progress’ and ‘it never finishes’. That being the case we must learn to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination.
Schedule the things that are important to you. Often we think we ‘don’t have time’ for the important things like self-care, relationships, leisure, etcetera, but the reason we don’t have time is because we don’t schedule it.
The power of visual reminders. Whether they be words, pictures or even videos, visual reminders of what you want and how you want to be can go a long way to ensuring you maintain a state that’s congruent with your goals.
The power of feedback. Having just completed our first online leadership program with clients, we sought feedback from another leadership expert who did the program as an ‘observer’. She submitted feedback, much of which was constructive criticism, on each module as we progressed and we noticed our enthusiasm for the feedback increased as we went. This allowed us to improve on our delivery as the program progressed and has set us up nicely for the next round of the program.
Your turn now! Schedule some time now do your own review to set yourself up for 2020 and beyond. We’d love to hear what your biggest lessons are so please share them with us via email when you’ve completed your year in review.
Have you learned nothing this year? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you have learnt, but only if you take the time to review your year.
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