As 2021 winds down, it seems like the perfect time for some reflection.
In my work with leaders, I have found most are at either end of a wide spectrum. Some go the route of completely chilling out and relaxing after the hard work they’ve put in all year. Others choose not to extinguish the flame and instead ignite it even more by working until the clock strikes 12:00 on New Year’s.
I’m of the belief that there’s good to be had by finding some middle ground, and that middle ground can be achieved with some focus on areas that result in huge returns.
Ten I like to commit to are:
1. FOCUS ON GRATITUDE.
Your brain offers you 60,000 thoughts per day. On average, 80% of those thoughts are negative, and 95% are repetitive. Committing to a habit of gratitude shows that 80% stat who’s boss, and then the 95% stat begins to work in your favor.
You can think every day about the people on your team who don’t pull their weight, who you feel are lazy, who you wish you hadn’t hired (but you still need them so you can’t fire them… and on and on).
Or you can be grateful they’re on your team. You can appreciate the learning opportunity you’ve been given to train—or retrain—them on certain processes. You can be thankful they reliably show up on time and ready to work. You can see them through a lens of gratitude.
2. FOCUS ON SELF-LEADERSHIP.
Leadership always begins with this inside job. You can read all the leadership books, follow all the top leadership advice, and show up as the external leader you think you’re supposed to be. If your internal gauge—your self-leadership—isn’t on point, though, your external efforts will have dismal results.
Self-leadership is about choosing self-belief over self-doubt and responsibility for your actions/outcomes over blame toward others. It’s choosing clarity over confusion in the ways you show up for yourself and others. It’s deciding to create new, helpful thoughts over old, negative stories you’ve told yourself for years. And it’s about acceptance of where you’re at on your leadership journey rather than resistance for where you don’t want to be.
3. FOCUS ON YOUR PEOPLE AT HOME.
The people in your inner circle—your family and friends—are an essential piece in who you are as a leader. Give them your time, your undivided attention, your presence. Show them through your words and actions how important they are to you.
Set boundaries with yourself to enrich your personal relationships. Leave your phone in the other room. Listen. Decide you won’t look to see if that email came through for the next hour or two or whatever block of time you commit to. And then follow through on that promise you made to yourself.
You’ll end up gaining stronger relationships as well as a habit of prioritizing what’s truly most important.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR PEOPLE AT WORK.
People and processes. We need them both. What’s most important, though? My opinion will always be the people.
Your people share their zone of genius with you whether that’s creativity, organization, customer service skills, or any of hundreds of other areas of expertise. They give of themselves for the betterment of your team, your department, your company.
And that merits celebration. And recognition. And a pat on the back. And real feedback—the kind that includes what’s going well and also where improvement is needed.
They deserve your presence, your honesty, your commitment to raise the bar with them and for them.
5. FOCUS ON SUFFICIENCY.
I’d never thought about a sufficiency mindset until I read Lynne Twist’s book The Soul of Money. In it she shares, “Scarcity speaks in terms of never enough, emptiness, fear, mistrust, envy, greed, competition, judgment, striving, entitlement, control, outer riches.
“Sufficiency speaks in terms of gratitude, fulfillment, love, trust, respect, compassion, acceptance, resilience, and inner riches.
“Sufficiency is about acknowledging what is, appreciating its value, and envisioning how to make a difference with it. It’s celebrating quality over quantity.”
Sufficiency. A valuable focus for us all.
6. FOCUS ON THE CARE YOU GIVE YOURSELF.
The term self-care is thrown around a lot these days. And you get to choose if you want to throw it right out or catch it and trust its importance.
Check in with yourself about the care you give yourself. Make good, restful sleep a top priority. Follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating with 80+% of the foods you consume being healthy. Move your body every day whether that be a vigorous workout at the gym or 30 minutes of walking. Exercise your brain as well with reading, crossword puzzles, continual learning, etc. Ensure that the people you spend your time with are those that build you up. And don’t forget to schedule time on your own as well—time to rest, recharge, and rejoice.
7. FOCUS ON YOUR EMOTIONS.
I spent the majority of my career believing emotions have no place at work. Now I’ve done a complete 180 because we can’t stuff our feelings in the car in the parking garage before walking into the office. They’re with us everywhere we go.
The question to ask yourself: What emotions do I WANT to feel?
What might change and improve for you if confidence, curiosity, gratitude, and/or competence filled you up each day?
Concentrate your attention on how you WANT to feel, and commit to those emotions. Then watch what happens to your results.
8. FOCUS ON YOUR ENVIRONMENT.
Think of where you spend the majority of your time each day. It might be your work area in the office. Or perhaps you work from a home office. You also spend time in other parts of your home each day from your bedroom to the living room to the kitchen and so on.
If your physical environment doesn’t contribute to stellar results, decide to make some changes. Those changes might include organizing the paperwork that clutters your desk or adding a fresh coat of paint to those dingy walls. Maybe a plant (or two or three) would add a motivating vibe for you.
Once your physical environment is just as you want it to be, do a check of the people within your environment, too. Who’s adding delight to your environment, and who’s bringing the vibe down? How can you manage the circle with whom you spend your time?
9. FOCUS ON THE MONEY.
You can dance around this topic and hope it improves, or you can take the bull by the horns and transform your results.
Whether you’re leading your own company or leading a team or department in a management role, it’s important to tune into your part in the money-making process. From the products/services you offer to customer service to the processes in place behind the scenes to make it all happen, you have a part in the financial gains of your leadership.
Be assertive in your pricing structure. Be steadfast in your commitment to deliver only the best to your customers. And be courageous in talking about money whether it has to do with what you charge or what you earn. It’s not a dirty word, after all.
10. FOCUS ON RESULTS.
This is where the rubber meets the road because the results you most want aren’t necessarily the results the leader next to you wants. And guess what? That’s perfectly fine.
This area of focus is truly about the results YOU want. And your results can be directly tied to any of the other focus areas just shared.
So where to begin?
- Prioritize your top three desired growth areas for the coming year.
- For each of those three areas, design a simple, three-step plan to help you achieve your end goal.
- Schedule regular time to work on each area.
- Don’t allow yourself to push those time blocks aside when something else comes up.
- Add appointments in your calendar for check-in meetings with yourself in three, six, nine, and twelve months.
Ten focus areas to help you be the exceptional leader you want to be.
Stay committed. Push distractions aside. Believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish anything you want. And celebrate your leadership wins.
Happy holidays to you and yours!