It’s been another eventful year with many unexpected twists and turns. Like me, 2021 may not be wrapping up the way you envisaged when champagne corks popped at the start of the year.
But before you bid adieu, wrap up 2021 and head off on a summer break, take the time to pause and reflect, shake off any unhelpful remnants from the year, embrace your learnings, and focus ahead. Even though the year has been eventful, there is likely much you will have gained and some elements that may surprise you.
Notice what’s happened
Lockdown 6.0 in Melbourne knocked me for six (and not in a good way). I started to not feel like myself. I didn’t feel like I was making any home runs (to mix my idioms badly). My optimism began to fade – so too my energy levels. Even once lockdown was over, I found myself still focused on everything I hadn’t been able to do. I missed my niece’s wedding, a niece’s engagement party, an uncle’s funeral and I could go on.
I realised it was time to flip the lens, so I wrote down everything that happened this year that was good. What surprised me was how long the list was. Sure, 2021 had many challenges, but it wasn’t all bad.
Gratitude matters. It always has, and it always will.
Take the time to write down what you are grateful for this year. The elements on your list don’t need to be large and complex; they can be small and simple.
Challenge your perspective
Next, ask yourself: What have you learned this year that you wish to take into 2022 and what do you want to leave behind?
To answer that question, you will want to examine the perspective you are applying.
Perspective is something we rely on every day, often with little thought about its impact on our choices and corresponding outcomes. Holding a perspective doesn’t mean it is correct, nor is it necessarily wrong. It’s merely a point of view, which means that being willing to challenge your perspective and change it is difficult but often necessary.
The most challenging perspectives to change are those you hold about yourself, and that’s impossible to do if you don’t understand yourself. In a year filled with change and uncertainty, consider what you have learned about your levels of self-awareness and resilience. What are your default behavioural responses and patterns, and what are your go-to coping strategies? Identify what’s useful and where you may need to evolve your approach to achieve more sustainable outcomes in 2022.
Try different shoes
Reflect on your relationships with colleagues and team members. Were they as effective as you wanted them to be, and what would you like to change?
Successfully answering this question, once again, involves perspective. However, this time, it’s about the perspectives you hold on other people. Researcher Mark Davis defines perspective-taking as the ability to adopt another person’s psychological point of view. It’s the equivalent of the adage of ‘Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes’.
Perspective-taking is beneficial because you use different cognitive skills to examine and process information and interactions when you apply this mode of thinking. You are challenging yourself to abandon assumptions. You are open to seeing, hearing and learning about different ways of thinking, being and doing.
Find your edge
The world is complex and changing, and there is much we don’t yet know (or understand) about how the new year will unfold. Achieving sustained success requires curiosity about what is and what could be. It’s you finding your learning edge so you can witness, experience and participate in the world from the vantage point where you have the most significant positive impact.
To get you on that learning edge, you will want to:
1. Seek new channels – don’t always go to the same news sources. Instead, try alternate sources of information to ensure you are broadly and wisely informed.
2. Listen deeply – listen to people you disagree with, read their commentary and ask questions. Seek to understand them and what drives their thought processes. You don’t have to accept their ideas, but the more you know their world view the better chance you’ll have of finding common ground and making progress.
3. Suspend judgement – be interested in the other person’s perspective, even if your immediate reaction is to not agree with them.
4. Be always curious – challenge your assumptions and expectations. Consider why you think the way you do and what’s shaped and influenced your belief structures and automatic decision processes. Most importantly, check that your approach is still valid.
5. Broaden your network – have friends and connections that think differently to you. Be willing to engage in spirited conversations, which require you to think about your perspective, and the facts and data you are using to hold onto that position.
As you might already suspect, this is my final missive for 2021. Personally and professionally, I am well and truly ready to shake off the year and wind down into holiday mode. It’s been a big year on many fronts, and I am forever grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I have experienced. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read my musings. I love hearing your thoughts and ideas, so thanks to those who reached out during the year.
To my clients, thank you for putting your trust in my abilities and for opening yourself to new experiences. To Lisa, who makes everything in the background go smoothly, a huge thanks. And lastly, to the support crew of Barney and Craig, who always make each day better.
The Weekly Insights will return on Friday, 21 January. Until then, I hope the weeks ahead bring you much joy, happiness and time to connect and recharge.
It’s also a perfect time to reflect on where you want your development to focus next year. If you are thinking about making some wise choices, here are some suggestions:
Your Career Investment (kicks off in early February 2022)
Are you looking to accelerate your career and leadership? Feeling stuck or looking to elevate your approach? This program is your opportunity to invest and take charge of your career and development. The 2022 program is now open. With a limited capacity of 10 places get in quick to secure your spot.
Dare to LeadTM (starts end February 2022)
Do you want to be a courageous leader and build a courageous team culture? Based on the work of Dr Brené Brown, this three-day program is your chance to equip you and your team with the skills they need to excel in today’s world.
Step up and Influence Course (28 April 2022)
This course will help you navigate complex environments and effectively engage, collaborate with and influence colleagues, team members and stakeholders at all hierarchical levels.