After all salutations are exchanged, what the holidays really offer is perspective. Let’s not take it for granted.
Many business owners know that the hardest part of taking stock in the overall progress of the business is realizing that it is, for better or worse, a result of their own psychology. Meaning, anyone in a leadership position must go beyond measuring progress into the realm of accurately attributing the results. For example, if your team is highly enthusiastic but not data-driven, or visa versa, we must hold ourselves to a high level of accountability and directly reflect upon ourselves, first.
Since it’s difficult to take such an honest inventory, there’s no better time to do it than time away from our desk. When we are pulled out of the daily challenges, we can zoom out and look at the big picture. We can move our ego out of the way and recognize our past behavior and skill set for what it has been, not what we wish it were.
This way, we can see the true steps to accomplish our goals and the goals we set for our businesses and teams. When the ego, always loyally protecting us from change, is calmly taking the back seat, true self-reflection is possible, and thus, real improvement is possible. The true potential and benefit of taking responsibility is that we have the power and autonomy to change what isn’t working at any given moment. As soon as we become protective and blame someone else, we’re lost in the process and that change now lies on someone’s else’s shoulders and is unlikely to improve on a lasting basis without constant reminding. However, when we see where we shine and what needs adjustments, we can change to adjust our own psychology, and thus our businesses.
How can we evaluate our best and worst attributes? How can we be the judge and stand trial?
Let’s savor these fleeting moments of grand perspective we gain from the time away from our desk during the holidays and as managers, ask ourselves, what do we want to resume and what do we want to leave behind?
Harvard Business Review supports this protocol, “It’s easy to blame a failed business on doing the wrong things, but rarely do leaders realize that the failure lies in their own thinking. We are in the midst of a massive migration in business models, from managing assets and delivering services to creating technologies and orchestrating networks. Technology and network-based business models are more profitable, enable faster growth, and are more rewarded in the marketplace. Many companies have “platform envy” and are trying to emulate the network-based business models of companies like Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, and Paypal. But copying a business model without copying a mental model will lead to disappointing results. You have to change how you think before you can change what you do, and then change what you measure to close the loop.” 
Many prominent leaders take time during the holidays to reshape their version of resolutions to pivot their psychology and achieve balance in their business ventures and lives in general.
Here are a few examples:
- Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has a unique strategy when it comes to resolutions. In the past, she has said that, instead of setting a resolution, she picks a single word to look to for guidance. In 2016, that word was gentle. She states, ‘I’ve found this to be more successful than setting a more traditional resolution, because instead of prompting a radical change in behavior, it encourages a gradual change in mindset. I’ve spent 2016 being gentler to those around me, gentler in my approach to the world, and most importantly, gentler to myself.’ 
- Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, after taking a very honest inventory in late 2016, succeeded in focusing on growing her confidence in 2017, a shining example for us now as we move into the New Year. She states, “The year ahead is all about elevating my confidence and celebrating the incredible accomplishments of life. I’ve always been confident to an extent, but it wasn’t a well I could draw from in the hardest moments. It’s about owning your strengths, having the humility to see where you need the strength of others, and being open and impressionable to change. It’s within my reach and I feel now more than ever that this type of confidence in everyone will be critical to the future we all want to see come to fruition.”
- Debbie Sterling, CEO of GoldieBlox, wants to mentor young women interested in STEM. ‘In 2017 I want to spend more time mentoring young women interested in STEM and entrepreneurship. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling too busy to give back. The truth is, the more success you have, the busier you get. So you have to proactively make time to do things that are important to you.’
- Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack, wants to cut back on email, ‘My New Year’s resolution is once and for all to spend significantly less time reading and writing emails, and far more time being present and looking people in the eye.’
- Michael Wystrach, Freshly CEO, speaks directly to our driving principle by implementing responsibility as a resolution. “My New Year’s resolution is to practice extreme ownership: the idea that you are responsible for every situation and relationship in your life, no excuses. This last year I found myself frustrated with situations and felt like I had no ability to improve them. After reading ‘Extreme Ownership‘ by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, my whole perspective on my control over situations changed. Now it’s time to put my knowledge to work!” 
While resolutions are a powerful tool, they require almost no work upfront, and an incredible amount of willpower to achieve. Apparently less than 10% of us have that much willpower. 
So take time to choose yours and make it your own. Some of the above resolutions are intentions to lift career related achievements, some are an intention to be in the present while moving toward goals and others are simply to take more time for others. These shifts affect and inspire their teams, and everyone they lead. History tells us that when it comes to leadership, influence is much more powerful than control, and the most effective way to influence others is to lead by example.
What will you resume in 2018? Whether you are looking for a new position or in the hiring position, we all have the ability to take an honest inventory, leave behind what isn’t working and chose to continue what does.
All this said, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season and took time to reflect, recognize and cultivate the tools to succeed in 2018.
Welcome back, from everyone here at Executives Unlimited, Inc.