It is that time of year that invites reflection about what has been and what might be. We stand on the cusp of 2012, about to confine 2011 to the scrapbook. It is a good time to be asking questions about the past and a good time to be asking questions about the future.
What kind of year has it been for you? Your answer to that question it will give an indication as to what it is you deem important. Your evaluation of the year, whatever that might be, will point to the measures that you think are significant. Therein might be something worth further reflection and consideration.
What have you learnt this past year? Learning should be a never-ending process, irrespective of how age, experience, position or title. The fact that intentional learning is often not something leaders embrace is a concern. Perhaps a better way to phrase this important question would be to not only ask what have you learnt, but also, what have you unlearnt and relearnt?
As you look down the road at 2012, here would be some good questions to consider.
What do you need to keep doing, start doing and quit doing? Although a new year offers a fresh start, the reality is that it is also a continuation of the past. Our tomorrows are intertwined with our yesterdays and there will always be things we need to continue, to start or to quit. So, what are these ‘things’ for you?
How would you like to end 2012? Covey in Seven Habits for Highly Effective People suggests that one of the habits should be to ‘start with the end in mind’. I am wary of rigid plans that might constrict rather that free but there can be no harm in reflecting on where it is you would like to be at some point into the future. It is more demanding work than it would at first appear, but you won’t regret doing it. Do the work but be ready to embrace the adaptive challenges that life demands.
Finding the right questions in life and leadership is important. These four questions may well evoke other questions more relevant to you and where it is you find yourself. The challenge is to find the ‘right’ questions and then engage in the work and exploration that those questions invite. Cultivating this as a habit will enhance your leadership. Of that I have no doubt!
So, find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed, take a journal of sorts and allow these (and other) questions to link the past and future; to surface both a smile and tear; to allow gratitude and strengthen resolve; to find answers and allow mystery to coexist, and to help you understand yourself better. You lead out of who you are. Doing this work becomes the boot camp of leadership. It might hurt and lead to some initial aches and pains, but it will also produce leaders fit to lead.
May that part of the journey that we mark as 2012 be the best yet! Travel well.