At the turn of each calendar year, we enthusiastically embrace two traditions: "the year in review" and "the new year's resolution". Both almost always let us down. One takes the form of nostalgically hailing what was good, and bemoaning what was bad, past tense. It's entertaining, but it doesn't change much. It's precisely why we turn to the resolution to do better in the coming year. The trouble is it rarely works. Research shows that 66 percent of those who make improvement promises wearing a funny hat and armed with champagne and noisemakers won't even make it past February. And a mere 14 percent will still be in play by the time the ball drops next December 31st.
It isn't just personal goals such as diets or gym memberships that bite the dust. As companies and individual professionals we commit similar errors of optimism. To be sure, some of those destined-to-fail work goals are simply miscalculated and misplaced. But more often it's how we go about choosing those goals in the first place, their nature, and the timeframes we set for achieving them that lead result in them going astray.
11 wise leadership insights for the new year and beyond.
As a new year begins, consider breaking with tradition. Don't just look one year forward or one back. And expand your view beyond your own backyard. To do both and more, consider instead these 11 wise leadership insights.
There's a bit of irony in the fact that the list was sparked while listening to a "look back" episode of a podcast called The Year of the Peer, hosted by Leo Bottary, coauthor of "The Power of Peers." Bottary and the podcast's co-creator Randy Cantrell spent a year interviewing a wide range of leaders--from the CEO of Vistage Worldwide and the founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO), to the publisher of Forbes and the CEO of Alimeter Group (full disclosure, I was humbled to be among the nearly 50 people interviewed). Their podcast reflections generated my own, having interviewed hundreds of successful leaders over the years.
The following insights occur as consistent patterns across successful leaders and multiple industries. Rather than simply focus on the bottom line, these wise lessons emphasize the things that truly shape it, and in more than a simple 12-month cycle. Over and over again, they not only stand the test of time, they result in true impact. And really, at the start, end, or middle of any year, lasting impact is what we're really after.
- Nobody does it alone.
- Most successful people don't leap tall buildings; they do little things, things we all can do, but most don't.
- Success and having true impact is not just all "grand form;" it's intimate connections and an accumulation of smaller, more informal ideas and exchanges.
- Nobody does today what they thought at 20 they'd be doing--and we'd all be better at 40, 50, and beyond if we knew that at 20.
- The true end goal is far away; you need to tend to the journey in the middle.
- More things start with coincidence than a plan. The best are a result of "purposeful accidents."
- How do you get people to do or let you do great things? Ask. And get good at noticing what happens when you do.
- People hunger for the intimate idea or connection far more than the big idea or the trend of the moment. Its increasing rarity is a competitive advantage waiting to be seized.
- We matter to others, and we cost them and ourselves when we miss or malign that, or when we simply don't follow through.
- Success, especially the sustained kind, is about living generosity versus seeing success as transactional or an isolated quid pro quo.
- Openness is what starts it all and propels it ongoing.