It’s Friday, 4pm and my working week is almost over. One quick meeting at 4.30pm with some LMI colleagues from India, Lebanon and South Africa about a leadership development webinar we’re all speaking at in a couple of weeks, then we’re done.
Dinner will be early as my son is working from 6, and I’m working at home today so there isn’t any travel time after work finishes to enable that transition from work to family time, and on into the evening.
What strikes me is how easy it is to move from one thing to the next, from work to not-work, from one meeting to the next, from one day to the next, without pausing to think. In so doing, I wonder if we are massively missing out.
If something’s been fantastic, we can miss out on enjoying it, celebrating it and recognising why so perhaps we can repeat it.
If something’s been terrible, we miss out on reflection, processing, learning, and practicing a bit of emotional intelligence to think about what’s taken place, process our feelings, have some empathy for others, and decide what, if anything, we need to do next.
My week’s been pretty good, with a work highlight being a reconnection with a past client. I received a call out of the blue having not had contact since 2016 and we’ve now booked in some new work for December. I also recognise that my head’s been pretty full of all the news around the policitcal comings-and-goings at home, the protests in Iran, the war in Ukraine, the climate and how it’s far too warm for the end of October! Way too much time on Twitter has taken it’s toll and I need to step away from all that this weekend.
So how’s this week been for you? What’s been great? What’s been hard? Who have you met? What new opportunities have opened up? What were your progress and victories? Is there anything you need to plan to do different next week? And how are you going to make the most of the weekend?
I have just returned from a month in Norway visiting my wife’s family, having not been able to meet them at all for two years. As you can imagine, for my wife especially, it was incredible to be with them again after so long.
What is harder to imagine is that when we – us and our three teenage children – discussed the whole trip, every single one of us had a surprising highlight: the four days we spent right at the beginning of August in a non-descript quarantine hotel within a stones’ throw of Oslo Gardemoen Airport.
Our food was brought to us three times a day in brown paper bags and hung on our hotel room doors. We had our small and by-no-means-impressive rooms to live in and a concrete car park with a small banked grass verge for a bit of outside time. We could also head off-site once a day for a walk.
It was the most severe simplification of life I have ever experienced, even taking the lockdown life we’d become used to over the last year to a whole other level. It could have been a nightmare. Why it wasn’t is tremendously interesting and something I’m keen to learn from.
We enjoyed large quantities of time together. We watched some movies, talked lots, read some books. We played very simple games (UNO anyone?)! Most of life’s distractions were removed. It felt like genuine rest.
There are some massive lessons to take with us back into ‘normal life’. What we do with these, I’m not quite sure yet, but to do nothing would, I’m certain, be missing a big opportunity.
We have been trying to make progress with sorting out our garden this summer.
It’s not going very well.
The big problem is that we aren’t really sure what we want to do. We have an idea, then another one. Then we go back to the original one. I’ve started a bit of DIY patio restoration, then decided we should get someone in to do it. It goes on like this.
We have actually got some things done and it does look better than it did a couple of months back but we haven’t progressed anywhere near as much as we could have done and there’s been a lot of wasted effort.
In truth, it’s not that important to us and it’s certainly not urgent (and wasting a bit of time in the garden can be good for you)!
When we find the same thing happening though in areas of life, including work, that are very important, this becomes a problem. Question is, what’s the solution?
We can try hard in every individual situation to exercise our best planning and problem-solving skills or we can find / create / customise a system that helps guide us through the process of ALWAYS creating clarity on ALL the things that matter most.
What am I doing with my life?
What am I doing today?
What’s the purpose of our organisation?
What’s the purpose of doing this specific task?
With clear direction we can create a clear plan. With a clear plan we can take positive action. Without clarity, we can never achieve what we want and are capable of.
As Brené Brown puts it,
Clarity is kindness.
It can take a lot of effort to establish your system and more so to turn it into a habit, but it’s absolutely worth it.
This seems to be the big question for many right now and the impact of how we answer it will be huge in the coming months.
I had two appointments postponed last week, both because the other party had a one-hour meeting slot booked and then discovered they should attend in person, thus doubling (or more) the amount of time that meeting would consume. Cue the reorg of everything else that day to accommodate.
It seems so clumsy and inefficient.
Ah, but in the previous few weeks I’ve had my first in-person meetings in what feels like years, and loved them! I enjoyed the journey, the traffic, the parking, even the signing in at reception. It may have taken nearly half a day instead of 60 minutes but I returned refreshed and energised. So much so, I booked some more, including the first LMI UK team non-Zoom get-together since 2019!
I could make this a long post but it really doesn’t need to be. There is one simple message: THINK!
It would be easy to say yes to everything and go back to how things were. Equally, we could decide to keep everything virtual and miss out on the magic that happens when people are together in the same room. That ‘magic’ that is so much more than just ‘achieving the meeting objective’. Think relationship-building, fun, connection, wellbeing, ideas, inspiration and more.
My plan is to still do an awful lot of meetings remotely, feeling delighted about the efficiency and simplicity of it all. I’m going to choose which appointments to attend in person, treating them as special occasions and valuing every minute in the real-live company of other human beings.
We have a unique opportunity to shape the future in really positive, productive ways if we’re mindful of the decisions we make.
Oh, and whatever you decide each time, best make sure everyone else knows too!
A quick follow up to the last post about the joy of short meetings! Just because a meeting is short, doesn’t mean it’s been successful. For it to feel successful to all participants, everyone needs to have been heard and feel that they made the contribution they had to make and been part of the agreed direction and future actions that are decided at the meetings.
A short video inspired by a rare occurance. My scheduled one-hour meeting today was done and dusted in just 20 minutes, including a bit of social chat. It’s not always possible, but certainly worth noticing when it does. I’ll share some more meeting thoughts soon.
If you can understand yourself and what motivates you then you can make choices that enable you to live with more energy, enthusiasm and happiness, as well as generally getting better results in whatever you put your hand to.
If you can understand others’ motivation, then you can help them do the same and that’s powerful.
One way to experience high levels of motivation is to be consciously connected to the value of what we’re doing.
This is important because…
If you can’t complete that statement above in a meaningful way for what you are currently doing – both from a ‘big picture’ perspective and in the nitty-gritty of your current tasks – you are most likely feeling demotivated.
This leads to two options – either there isn’t a good reason for doing it and you should stop. Or, and this is really common, there are mulitple good reasons for doing it and they’ve just been forgotten or drifted out of mind.
Here you should definitely stop and revisit the purpose that was there in the beginning.
Blank piece of paper. Big heading, “This is important because….”
We looked previously at how success can be defined as progess towards achieving your own meaningful goals. By that definition, everyone can be (and feel) successful. Going back to where we started looking at goals, this is the perfect antidote to the negative feelings that we can all be susceptible to if we find ourselves measuring our success by comparison with others.
Ok, so success is in our hands if, AND IT’S A BIG IF, we learn to regularly set our own goals. It sounds simple. In many ways it is extremely simple and yet so many aren’t doing it. There are two really important keys here:
Learn a system for goal-setting and customise it to your own needs/style/situation/preference.
Make using that system a habit.
We’ll look now at the steps for setting goals as laid out in the LMI Goal Planning System. Next time we’ll talk about how to make using it a habit.
Before we get into that though, a brief intelude. Could you take a few seconds just to imagine the impact it will have if you get seriously good at this? What if every month for the rest of your life you could identify the most important work and personal goals in your life and work effectively to achieve them?
Ok, back to the system in ten steps.
Define or describe something that you’d like to be better in some way.
Write a specific goal(s) that supports this intent.
List the benefits gained and the potential losses avoided by achieving the goal.
Write down possible obstacles and list potential solutions.
Write detailed action steps and deadlines to achieve the goal.
Integrate the action steps into your planning system.
Determine a method of tracking your progress.
Write affirmations to encourage you and keep you on track.
Develop a visual representation that effectively reminds you of your goal.
Celebrate the accomplishment of meaningful goals
It’s a simple and immensely powerful system where each step plays an important part in making the whole system work.
We talk more about this in the Foundations of Success workshop I run. If what we’ve been looking at around goals is an area you’d like to improve in, and the LMI Goal Planning tools would be helpful, you’d be really welcome to join one of these sessions.
The last post ended with a promise that we’d look at how to set goals that work for you whatever you are currently facing.
And let’s face it, some of the goals we may have had are not very helpful to us right now. That one about getting 5000 people to that big May event, anyone?
I’m sure you’ve had at least some negative experience with setting goals. You may even be in that bracket of people who have sworn never to go down that road again having found it only led to guilt, frustration, disappointment (insert any additional / alternative negative emotion here) when the goals weren’t reached.
Let’s start really simple. A goal is simply the expression of an intended outcome; something you want to achieve, do, have or become. Let’s call it ‘being intentional.’ I find this really helps. I don’t need to start with, “Be the best in the world at….” or “Double my income by….”
The psychology of being intentional is incredibly interesting. When I set a goal, no-matter what it is and regardless of how small it may seem, it gives me a sense of purpose and direction. Again, this may be very small but we have to realise that great habits and big successes begin with small actions and are often the result of years of small accumulations. When I achieve that goal, I can’t help but feel a little bit more successful which in turn helps me feel more motivatied to take on another goal.
My apologies if this is way too basic for you but I have so many conversations with people where this is exactly where they need to begin, especially if they find themselves in a state of lockdown lethargy or experiencing the guilt/frustration/inferiority challenges that we discussed last time.
Write down something that you’d like to do today, no matter how small. Something that you’ll feel pleased, relieved, delighted, triumphant (insert any additional / alternative positive emotion here) about when it’s done. Then do it. Start really small and ultra-achievable. See how it goes. If it works for you, then repeat.
Even really big goals work in exactly the same way.
We are just beginning to scratch the surface with the whole goals shebang so please, stick with it because it will make such a difference to your life, your family and friends, your work and even the world if we all get seriously good at this!
Next post we’ll look specifically at the goal-setting system we use in LMI to help people consistently achieve the goals they set. It’s a good one. See you then.