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:

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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?