Every year I make mistakes. But since mistakes are learning, it's worth reviewing them to find out what you learned this year.
Some people make new year's resolutions. I review old year's mistakes.
I try to take some time to look through the calendar and identify what I did wrong: not out of a love of self-flagellation, but because I'd dearly like not to make the same mistakes twice.
So here are my mistakes of 2012:
- Too much travel. I don't have the stomach to count up all the days I was on the road. I just know this: I can't remember the last time I actually bought shampoo. All my toiletries have come courtesy of hotels. What this means is that I haven't had enough time to start serious work and finish it.
- Not enough thinking time. I mentor CEOs and, while I like to imagine my insight and imagination helps them, I often think that the most valuable service I provide is making them carve out time to think with me. Thinking is the stuff that always gets pushed out of the calendar; it is also the most important work we have. I need to learn from myself and make more time for it.
- Learn to say "no" earlier. I'm often asked to do new things or meet new people and, in principle, I'm usually up for this because I hope to learn something. I need to qualify these opportunities--perhaps not as rigidly as a Sales Manager might but at least to discern whether they are worth investigating. I should develop my own criteria: what makes an opportunity interesting?
- Avoid residential conferences. Business happens in the world and the three or four day off-site is an attempt to take business out of the world. If your conference can't compete with the real world, you're doing something wrong. I used to think these events brought focus and deeper contemplation. Next year, I'll just leave early.
- Spend more time with my kids. They are interesting and give me ideas. When I don't spend much time with them, I lose out and get stale.
So that's my learning for 2012. What's yours?