Now that your New Year’s resolutions have come and gone (for many of us), it’s time to take a fresh look at the year. I’ve described this previously as the Etch-a-Sketch effect. Some of you don’t know what an Etch-a-Sketch is. It’s a toy that allows you to draw anything you want, then shake the device and the picture disappears, leaving your canvas clear for your next masterpiece.
There’s at least one major flaw in this story. Unless you and I do something differently, the next picture we create will have striking similarities to the last one we drew. Here is our reality: although we do have the opportunity to start a new year, our outcomes are unlikely to change unless we change.
Volumes have been written on becoming the best version of yourself, and I’ll not attempt to summarize that work here. However, as Samuel Johnson famously said, “What most people need is to be reminded more than they need to be taught.” With this in mind, I want to remind you of three ideas you’ve undoubtedly heard before. Each, independently, could help you make 2017 your best year ever as a leader.
Find Your Focus – You are in the midst of a war for your time, attention, and resources. Never before has there been more opportunities, all vying for your attention. And we all know, as leaders, as careful as we are, our time is not really our own. There is always something or somebody demanding your immediate action. Although this is inevitable, our response to these demands is still our decision. Are your personal priorities clear? Are the priorities of your team equally clear? One strategy for maintaining focus is to be crystal clear regarding the activities you are saying “yes” to; and then, by default, the “no’s” are easier.
Live with Intentionality – After your focus is clear, how can you be more thoughtful, strategic, and calculating with your time and resources? Intentionality without clarity is an illusion. I would also suggest you enlist others to help you be more intentional. If you are among the fortunate few who still have dedicated administrative support, enlist your assistant. Ask him or her to map your activities to your key roles/priorities. Try actually allocating time based on what’s important. Because in the final analysis, where we invest our resources determines what we really counted as important.
Build Genuine Community – This is a big idea. Human beings are made for community – a deep sense of personal belonging to a group. Unfortunately, many adults aren’t experiencing community in the workplace. The impact is staggering. An absence of this “doing life together” sentiment may be preventing your team from experiencing full engagement and the resulting performance dividend. What’s your role in this process? Cast a vision for community; nurture it; and when it emerges, celebrate. Once you’ve seen community in action, my prediction is that you’ll fight forever to make it your ongoing reality.
I am still working to make 2017 my best year ever. How about you?
About Mark Miller
Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.