“I’m not smart. I try to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why.” ~ Bernard Mannes Baruch
As most are doing this time of year, I am taking time this week to reflect on 2012. I think reflection is important for growth. Reviewing the past twelve months and analyzing both the good things and the things that I would do different gives me an opportunity to learn from myself. Clearing the decks and taking an objective look at not only what happened but also what could have happened lets me form a plan for what areas I should focus on for both personal and professional growth.
I have found that it helps to have a plan for how to review the past year. I try to keep my emotions out of the picture (not easy especially for me). I start by asking myself a few questions and when the answers are less than positive, I look for the why and what I will try to do different next time. Just to get started I ask myself the four “C’s.”
- Have I always communicated clearly?
- Have I been consistent in my approach and messaging?
- Have I sought clarity before offering a contribution?
- Have I been kind? I know this last is not a “C” but close enough and I think it is the most important question.
Let’s start with communication. Have I always communicated clearly? I have found in reflection that I use email as a crutch to shore up my hatred of the phone. There are many reasons why I hate the phone but I won’t bore you with them, let’s just say I find it a challenging medium and would rather speak in person or even over Skype than entertain the disembodied voice over the phone. Many times it takes much more effort to communicate clearly in an email then it would to just pick up the phone and have a quick one to one conversation. Other email missteps I discovered included the tendency to copy “dad” when I am not getting what I need from my email recipient. This is not only ineffective but definitely takes a toll on the coins in the old emotional bank account. So with that in mind, what will I do differently in 2013? First and easiest I will vow to curb my tendency to copy anyone unless they really need to know. Secondly I will make sure I have everyone’s Skype contact and either use that or pick up the dreaded headset and call when a quick one on one conversation will get closure faster. Okay, that gives me something to work on for this “C.”
Have I been consistent with my approach and message? When I look at how consistent I have been with my approach and messaging, I think I have done a pretty good job. If those of you who interact with me frequently feel differently, please let me know where you think I have room for improvement. So for this “C” I will continue to do as I have been doing and move on to other areas where I have more “opportunity” to grow.
Now comes the big one for me. Have I sought clarity before offering a contribution? This will probably always be an area of focus for me just because of my personality. That said, it does not mean I cannot improve. I think that just acknowledging that this is a challenge for me helps me to temper my need to jump in and solve the problem before seeking clarity. Well, at least that is what I would like to think, but in reflection I can see that I still have a long way to go. What I will specifically do differently in 2013 is first when in meetings allow others to state the problem as they see it and then make sure that we all are on the same page about what we are trying to solve. Second, I will then solicit thoughts and ideas from others on what they think the solutions could be. Lastly, I will offer my thoughts but only after everyone else has their opportunity to give input. Now for me this very difficult. I like to see myself as a problem solver and want to get to the solution quickly. I would ask for your support and patience as I work on this area.
On to the fourth “C,” have I been kind? All of us I am sure like to think we are kind to others, but how many of us have had those “unkind” thoughts? While in a face to face interaction we might on the surface be taking what we perceive to be a kind approach, our thoughts tell another story. When I review my “thoughts” over this past year, I can honestly say that for certain individuals I have let my thoughts cause some deterioration of my working relationships. It is not really possible to like everyone nor even respect their approach, but we can be kind. By this I mean we can give them the benefit of the doubt, cut them some slack, keep our assumptions locked in the closet, and move forward with kind thoughts. What always resonates with me is this following quote.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
With all of this in mind, I am going to harness my thoughts and filter them with kindness.
Well I can see that I have my work cut out for me this year. I am going to print out my resolutions and post them where I can see them daily. This last is what I find helps me keep on track. Now that you know my resolutions, how about yours? Your questions might be different, but I encourage you to reflect and set a few goals for yourself. Be sure to post them where you can have a daily reminder.
Happy New Year!