It’s that time of year when we start to take a look ahead at what we want to achieve in the coming New Year and at the same time reflect on how far we have come since this time last year. It is fascinating to read the posts that start to appear on LinkedIn and other social media sites as “experts” list off the “best of….” and “Top 10….” things one must do for the year ahead.
I went back over my blog posts and noticed that at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, I wrote nothing about moving into a new year or making resolutions — I seemed to have skipped that tradition completely. The year before, my post for the end of December 2014 had a title that seemed to position it for looking ahead to 2015 (For 2015, First Know Yourself) but upon reviewing it, I see it’s pretty generic and could in fact be a post for any time throughout the year. As I reflected on that, it seemed that this may be a significant point to focus on. Why do we concentrate so hard on “what we need to change” at the beginning of every year, year after year, when we should actually be focusing on that throughout the year? One of my core values is learning. I’m a believer in continuous learning and I am privileged to be able to do that week in week out as coach and teacher. We should all be attempting to learn a few new things every week, if not every day.
There is very old saying that “the only constant is change,” and I have found that to be true. Yes, take time to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to what you want to accomplish in 2017. But don’t stop there! Make it a practice to do this quarterly, monthly, or even weekly. What are your long, medium and short range plans? Being open to learning new things and the change they create is for everyone, but for leaders, it is especially true and I would say even critical – it is not an option. Akin in his study on learning habits (Varieties of Managerial Learning) found that managers/leaders were “surprisingly congruous… Learning is experienced as a personal transformation. A person does not gather learnings as a possession but rather becomes a new person… to learn is not to have, it is to be.” (Akin, G. (1987). Varieties of Managerial Learning. Organizational Dynamics, 16(2), 36-48). We become who we are through our continuous learning, especially about self, which brings me back to my post of December 2014 and its message: by first learning about, understanding and accepting ourselves … and then learning about and understanding others, we can begin to communicate and behave in a way that reduces frustration and stress, and ultimately creates a better environment whether at work, home, or leisure.