We are just hours away from a new year, so now is a perfect time to ask ourselves what we did right last year and what we want to do differently in the coming one. Unfortunately, we are handicapped in that assessment by the lens of what achievement means in our society. We tend to be failure-centric instead of success-centric.
We’ve all heard the stories about Einstein not being able to remember his own address or phone number, yet he fundamentally changed our view of the universe itself and made modern technology possible. Question: If he had practiced to remember his phone number, his address and the birthday of his wife, would Einstein have made even more of a contribution? Or less?
We Live in a Failure-Centric Society
Take a look at this report card. Imagine bringing this home from school. What do you suppose the dinner conversation would focus on that night? I can tell you for certain that, in my family, all we would be hearing about is Social Studies for the next couple of weeks. But let’s stop and think for a moment instead of just reacting.
This kid is obviously a budding scientist and mathematician, and pretty good at English, too. Social studies be damned — she has the makings of someone who might fundamentally change our view of the universe. Yes, of course we need to find a way to get her through social studies so that she doesn’t flunk out of school. But what is REALLY needed are more opportunities and encouragement in her areas of greatness; math and science. In my family, like in most, science opportunities (“fun”) would be withheld until that social studies grade came up.
The Myth of the Well-Rounded Person
The single biggest mistake that people make in personal development (theirs and their staff’s) is believing that we all need to overcome our personal obstacles and become more well-rounded. That’s pure nonsense. The entire time he was building the world’s largest software corporation, Bill Gates was seemingly unable to get a decent haircut. He was right, it didn’t matter. (He once showed up to a venture capital conference with the “M” sticker still on the front of his new sweater.)
Focus on Strengths, the Weaknesses will Take Care of Themselves
I once asked an extremely successful sales person to get us an appointment with the CEO of a tech company so that I could introduce them to a new microcontroller. She said “No problem.”
“What this thing does” I began to explain to her, “is…”.
“Oh, no,” she interrupted, “don’t bother. That’s not even part of my process anymore.” I was so surprised that I laughed. Most people are simply not that insightful. She had fabulous people skills and good organizational skills, but didn’t understand the technology at all. She built her career on her strengths and was highly successful. It was a brilliant strategy.
Looking Backwards, then Forwards
The best way to succeed in the future is to look back at where you have been successful in the past. By identifying what tools helped you succeed in those situations, you can be sure to bring them with you to future situations.
Looking back on the year, what were you great at? Where did you really succeed? Was it your ability to inspire your team to achieve extraordinary success? Your ability to think about the market strategically? Your focus on customer satisfaction? Do you have outstanding communication skills? Was it sheer dogged determination?
Whatever the answer, plan to do a lot more of that in the new year, because that’s how you are going to win. Not by cleaning up your office or improving the organization of your filing system.
Take an Hour to Plan Your Year
If you seriously want to make the new year a better year, put an hour on your schedule (right now) to do the following exercise.
In a quiet place, where you won’t be interrupted, write down the answers to these questions:
- What were your three greatest accomplishments?
- What made these accomplishments stand out for you?
- How could you use what you have learned from these accomplishments to assist you in making future changes?
- Who are, or have been, your major role models?
- What attributes of these role models do you admire and want to emulate?
- List five adjectives that describe you at your best.
- What prevents you from being at your best?
- What are three things that you would like to change in the coming year that would make your life even more satisfying, effective and joyful?
- What steps are you prepared to take, right now, to begin making that vision a reality?
Next week, we’ll talk about how to start implementing those changes.
At Farsyte, we believe that the secret to building the best sales team in the world is investing in your front-line sales managers. We are like personal trainers, working with your high-potential sales managers to unlock their potential to be great sales leaders. Our system uses a unique combination of assessment tools, mobile apps and one-on-one coaching to actually change their behavior, from trying to manage each sale, to multiplying sales by empowering their teams for maximum performance.