I have been abundantly blessed with the success I have enjoyed during my 31-year corporate career and now as an independent consultant. Looking back, I can clearly see that much of my personal growth as a leader came about while I grappled with the challenges of the turnaround situations I was deployed to. There were at least 7 of those that I can recall, and they all served a purpose in some form of fashion. Although it was painful at the time, I can’t help but credit the most rapid and powerful growth spurts in my career to behaviors I saw from bad bosses that I was clear I should never emulate.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference where a behavioral scientist was making a case for the fact that having information does not necessarily lead to behavior change. As I like to put it: it isn’t knowing what to do, but doing what you know, that makes all the difference. While we all accept that we have to know better before we can do better, many of us confuse the former for the latter, and this is where we end up getting held back.
When I was growing up, one of the things I remember always hearing my mom say was something like, “I have so much to do that I’m not doing any of it!” As a kid, I didn’t know quite what to make of this saying—probably because, as a kid, I didn’t have many important things that I really had to do—but I eventually came to understand exactly what she meant. You’ve been there haven’t you? You have so much to do that you feel like a deer in the headlights, and end up getting nothing done! […] That’s because it is far easier, though not exactly exciting or rewarding, for us to panic in that crisis mode rather than sticking to a few important priorities and doing what needs to be done.
Whether you are a go-getter, a planner, or a set-it-and-forget-it type of person, I think we can all agree that our chances of living a life of our design are improved when we have a fairly detailed idea of what it is that we want. As Zig Ziglar put it, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!” Unfortunately, too many of us do just that. We don’t establish a clear vision what we want, and yet we expect whatever it is to just fall into our laps, somehow and someday. Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that that isn’t how things work, but the good news is that once I explain how things do work, you can start putting them to work for yourself.
It is that time of the year again! That time when we put the past behind us, begin to look forward and set new goals in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. Most of the time, we identify the opportunities to improve out lives by examining what is not working well and attempting to close the gap. I have previously shared my tips on transformative New Year’s resolutions in a post on the subject. While those tips are all well and good, instead of going over them again, I’d like to present a different approach, one that is often overlooked when it comes to pursuing future accomplishment. I’d like to propose that one of the best ways to move forward is to look backward at where you have been and how far you have come. Although this sounds counterintuitive at first, I hope to make it obvious by the end of this post.