Being wise is more important than being right.
Leadership is far more paradox than it is perfection.
A leaders goal is to be authentic, not perfect.
These are just three mantra’s that I believe and live by. They shape my thinking, decision making, my priorities and direction. There are many more but these three are at the top of the list as I reflect on the last twelve months and prepare for the next twelve.
One of my leadership heroes is John C. Maxwell. I read one of his first books “Developing the Leader Within You” in my early twenties and it lifted the bar for me about what it meant to be a leader. In his book “Failing Forward” Maxwell reframes mistakes and how ‘whenever you fall make sure you pick something up’ and ‘whenever you fail, fail forward.’ As I have reflected on this year I’ve become even more aware of the things I do that are not helpful nor resourceful. So, in the spirit of wise authenticity (and with some sense of trepidation because it’s the very things I share here that I’d rather not share) I am reflecting on five things I wish I’d done better this past twelve months and will follow up with five things I think I’ve done well that will serve my future. Life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t all that bad either.
This is in no way intended to focus attention on me. It’s intended to reveal what my process is teaching me so it can help you. I hope your process, whatever that is, can reveal and teach you everything you need so that you have a productive and meaningful year ahead.
I let the fear of criticism stop me from completing and going public on important projects.
I have five books in draft form and at various stages of completion. Yet they remain incomplete. What did I permit myself to do? Get 80% of the way to done and choose to be distracted. Why? Not so deep down I’m criticism averse. It bangs on an already tender bruise so I steer myself away from putting anything in the public eye that I might have to defend or that might be criticised. It sits as an unrestored part of me that I react badly to in private and so I do everything I can to protect myself from that possibility.
So I don’t publish. Ironic that I’m publishing it here! I don’t ship. I don’t stand in conviction. I delay things, procrastinate, avoid and makeup excuses. Get busy (easy for an extrovert to be busy but not productive) or just leave things so long they slip to the bottom of the ‘Rohan Action’ folder.
My guess is that feeling will be there for as long as I tolerate the root cause of my insecurity (See next point) and that being increasingly aware of it has made me more determined to be rid of it.
What am I doing differently?
Earlier this year I went public on my #forleaders focus. It’s not my hashtag exclusively and it beautifully answered the question “What do I want to be known for?” I am for leaders and I am for leadership. Recently I added in the tagline “I teach technical experts to be people leaders.” I help people to get ready and be ready for the leadership role they are aspiring to. I’ve noticed a conviction in going public and a deeper level of resonance in the experience. In 10 weeks time, I will be publishing the first of three small books in my #forleaders series. It will be called “Trustable” – it’s short, but it’s mine and I’m super proud of it. It will be followed up by “Promotable” then “Flexible” rounding out a series on the three elements of the leader who gets noticed. I have decided to publish anyway and keep shaping the belief that what I say matters and can help people.
I skilfully (and unhelpfully) put off matters of the soul that need attention.
I deeply appreciate my supervisor. For several years now I’ve regularly sought professional help for the things that were slumbering in my thirties and rose up in my forties and have the potential to undo me in my fifties. What I leave in the dark has the potential to destroy. That’s not a price worth paying. Not to my wife and family, my friends, my work and my future. The short-term pain now has to be weighed against with the long term gain. Personal development precedes professional development (Attribution: Darren Hill).
I am increasingly aware of my insecurity. My emotional walls. I’m a “High I” in the DISC Profile and when that doesn’t work I become “High D”. That works VERY sparingly! This awareness has deepened my resolve to “work harder on myself than I do on my job.” (Attribution: Jim Rohn). To search for deeper soul health to enjoy a longer leadership life.
What am I doing differently?
I am maintaining the discipline of seeing my Supervisor and sticking with it to learn the things I need to learn. Unravel the things I need to unravel and place the right foundations in the second half of my life. It’s deeply confronting but I’m so grateful for people who know everything about me and love me anyway. I believe authenticity is a leadership superpower (Attribution: Colin Fink) and that once shared we have the privilege of stewarding that vulnerability. I am being kind to myself in the timing and disciplined in the commitment. I need to keep going deep so I can go long. (Anon).
I allowed my time to be filed with enjoyable but not productive activities.
I’m an expert at being busy and pushing back productivity. People are my poison. If I can have a meeting I choose that over focusing on a deadline and then celebrating with a meeting. Inbox distractions, things that seem to ‘come up’, making time to catch up with those I haven’t seen. I can procrastinate with the best and justify it like a boss. I can fill my schedule instead of plan my schedule and stick to it. I have always overfilled and pushed hard against deadlines and been rushed under pressure. At this stage of life and leadership, I firmly believe that has to shift to a more disciplined and focussed way of delivering work to the world. Set times to get things done, do them and then celebrate. Have accountability and support. Hack and gamify the possibilities. All in the name of designing the life I want to have.
What I am doing differently?
My two big words for the next twelve months are margin and focus. I am going to leverage outside assistance to shape and discipline my calendar to design and deliver the most important things. Theming my days (Attribution: Taki Moore.) Leveraging administrative assistance to waste less time travelling and more time delivering. Seeing my time as my primary resource and focusing on designing a world I want to live in and putting effort into that. I need to leave room to get the most important work done and focus on building my practice through delivery and positioning.
I wasn’t brave enough to ask delighted clients to refer me with enthusiasm.
Guess how many times I have won the work I was referred into. Every time. Very little comes close to a personal referral and introduction. And I have been terrible at it. Feels weird to me and I just have to get over it. The more referrals the better I believe. And yet I hesitate. Consistently. Do I do good work? I believe so. Are my clients happy? Very. Am I constantly creating new and better IP? I am. So why on God’s green earth aren’t I asking enthusiastically, with love and humility, for the work. Good question. And THAT is changing more and more as I realise that selling isn’t selling when your motivation is to genuinely serve and help leaders and cultures win. It’s looking for the right people to do great work with.
What I am doing differently?
>When I launched my practice over a decade ago I did some Coach Training and in it was a lesson I have long remembered. The questions were, “Does what you do help your clients?” Yes. “Then help me understand why you wouldn’t see it help as many people as possible?” Good question… For most of this year, I have asked for larger pieces of work than we have discussed. Stuck by my day rate and turned myself inside out to add value. The more I do that the deeper the conviction to serve, deliver and trust what I am offering. I work with a passion for value adding, growth and transformation. That has become even more noticeable.
I let other people’s lives colour mine via Social Media
Likes, shares, views, time on device….I’m way too in it. Screen Time has nailed me. Now, in my somewhat flimsy defence, I use my phone to make 70% of my work happen. Emails, Docs, calendar etc. It’s a mobile tool that helps me make time in time. I am multiple times more productive because I am mobile. And I look at social media WAY more than I need to. It’s too distracting, to intoxicating and I am too engaged in it. Time for a change in the disciplines.
What I am doing differently?
Getting professional help. And I don’t mean a therapist. I am working out how to leverage Social Media with the help of a professional. How to focus on branding, positioning and message management. I recently unfollowed every single one of the people I was following on Instagram (Sorry Mum?!) I was following over 2,100 people and have followed back around fifty. So far I’ve lost less than 20 connections in the process and I don’t even know who they are. I am working towards inbox zero 5 days out of seven and scheduling time to focus on the “Rohan Action” inbox which gets the most done. I will be batching my delivery time in the next twelve months and focusing on days shaped for client work, IP creation and selling. I am also leaving time to do my best work at my most productive time of the day (Before 3 pm for me) and then do the less brain drain work. None of this is difficult, or even new, I have just become aware that I can easily get distracted and I must address that.
These are personal reflections. My reflections. For some of you, you are light years ahead of me. For others, I hope these have helped just a small amount. Failure not only is an option sometimes it has to be experienced and processed to make things new, better and viable. Leadership is as much about learning from mistakes as it is leveraging the opportunities. Taking the time to reflect, learn, unlearn and relearn is key to making the most of the next 12 months. Here’s to reflecting well. Learning much, and making a positive change that benefits you and serves others.
I will follow this up with five reflections on things I believe I have done well that will serve the year ahead. I hope they serve you too.