Goals, Objectives and Being

How do you set your priorities?

As I write this, it’s December and the run-up to Christmas is getting into full swing here. If you get a chance, turn your thoughts to what kind of year you want next year. And don’t worry if you’re reading this and it isn’t anywhere near Christmas, a new year starts any day you want.

What’s it going to be about, this coming year?

Maybe there’s a theme that would work for you. Is this going to be an adventurous year, or is it going to be a year of discovery or of consolidation or of renewal or something else? What’s your theme for your next year?

Or maybe a theme isn’t the right way to approach it.

Try this instead – what is it for, this coming year?

What is it now time to achieve, to build, to throw yourself into?

Or it could be that this coming year isn’t the time to achieve anything at all – maybe this is the year to stop. We all need to call a halt to something, to step away from what isn’t working. Confucius said: “Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, which is true.

But most journeys also begin by closing the front door behind you.
What is it time for you to close the door on?

And then again, some of my best years have been those when I don’t look at the big-picture or even the details of what I want at all, but when I’ve mostly been just in the moment. Perhaps this coming year is going to be more about ‘being’ than doing.

What would an in-the-moment year be like for you?

Maybe for you, it’d be like the Zen saying, where one just chops the wood and carries the water; just quietly doing what needs to be done and being content with that.

Or maybe in-the-moment for you is a real flow-state experience, fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoying being completely absorbed in what you do.

Whichever way of looking at it works, I’d love to know what you want for your next year? Drop me a line or leave me a comment if you get a chance to consider it.

Authentic Leadership

Why it’s important to people that you be the ‘real you’ as a leader; flaws, imperfections and all

I’ve been out and about just recently doing a variety of talks and group coaching sessions, which always gives me a good chance to ask people their views on leadership and teamwork. One of the things I keep asking about is what kind of leaders do people really want.

The answers are pretty diverse, but one theme that definitely recurs is about “authenticity”.

People tell me they want to be led by someone who is a real person and who doesn’t pretend to be perfect. They say that they don’t want to be led by someone who sneakily tries to cover up the gaps in the strategy or ignores the inadequacies in “the way that things are done around here”. They say that being perfect is just unbelievable anyway. That’s it’s hard to respect and connect with someone who won’t admit to their flaws. And trying to live-up to someone who is desperately trying to be perfect is simply exhausting. Instead, people say they want a leader who is honest about these things, even if it might reflect badly on themselves.

My own experience, both with my coaching clients and as a leader myself, has been that it’s quite powerful to be open and vulnerable about where you might be less than perfect.

As a young first-time leader, I remember thinking that it might cause people to lose confidence in me, and in themselves, if I admitted all the things I had no idea about. I still think that there’s a slight risk in being open like that; that some people might lose confidence. But I also know it’s possible to be honest about your flaws, and those of the organisation, in a way that commits to addressing the important ones and doesn’t excuse things. If you want to, you can use the flaws, cracks and imperfections to connect with people in a powerfully human way.

I’m writing this in the week after the death of the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, so it seems timely to include a message from his song “Anthem”:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

See also:

Kintsugi – (“golden joinery”) the Japanese philosophy/art-form, which treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi