Leading with Trust

Try This One Simple Method to Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

goalLet me go out on a limb here. You’re probably reading this article because you’re contemplating resolutions you’re going to set for the New Year, right? You don’t have much confidence in keeping your resolutions because you’ve failed repeatedly in the past (surveys show only 8% of people keep their resolutions), so you’re looking for some game-changing advice.

Or maybe you’re thinking about the goals you’ve set for your team or organization and you’re stressed out about how you’re going to actually achieve them. If your experience is similar to mine, you’ve set goals for the year only to look back twelve months later to realize what you accomplished bears little resemblance to what you set out to do. For most of us the challenge is not in setting goals. I mean, we’ve got a ton of projects and priorities on our plates. We’ve got goals aplenty! The difficulty lies in prioritizing goals and staying on track to get them accomplished.

There’s a better way to work toward achieving your goals and it’s called the Six by Six Plan – the six most important priorities you need to accomplish over the next six weeks. It’s a method of goal prioritization and execution I learned from Bill Hybels.

It starts with asking yourself one critically important and fundamental question: What is the greatest contribution I can make to my team/organization in the next six weeks?

In answering that question, consider the decisions, initiatives, or activities for which only you can provide the energy and direction. You will likely generate dozens of items on your list that will need to be whittled down to the six that require you to take the lead in order to deliver the most impact.

There is nothing magical in having six priorities over six weeks. What’s important is having a manageable number of goals to accomplish over a relatively short time period. It needs to be a few goals that allow you to keep your energy high and a short enough time period that creates a sense of urgency. Setting big, broad goals for the year is like running a marathon. It’s too tempting to get overwhelmed, distracted, or lose energy on goals that seem so distant. It’s much easier to run a series of sprints by focusing on just a few key priorities for a short amount of time.

I think it’s important to emphasize the 6×6 method is a helpful tool for goal prioritization and execution. It’s not a way to set goals, which is an art and science unto itself. Check out this YouTube video of Bill Hybels describing the Six by Six Plan. Hopefully you’ll find it as helpful as I did.

(I originally published this post on LeaderChat.org and thought the Leading with Trust audience would enjoy it as well.)

Ditch the New Year’s Resolution and Do This One Thing Instead

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Photo Credit: deathtothestockphoto.com

Admit it, you’re in trouble with your New Year’s resolution, aren’t you?

That’s okay, you’re not alone. Surveys show that just a few days into the new year, 22% of people have already broken their resolution, 11% have abandoned it altogether, and just 8% will actually keep their resolution the entire year.

So ditch the New Year’s resolution…go ahead, just do it. I give you permission. But do this one thing instead: choose a word.

One word.

A couple of months ago I spent a weekend at a men’s retreat with Jon Gordon and that’s where I learned the power of one word. Jon’s written a number of best-selling books including The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, and One Word, co-written with Dan Britton and Jimmy Page.

The concept is simple yet powerful. Spend time in solitude and reflection to determine one word that will provide focus, clarity, motivation, and purpose to your activities this coming year. Not a mission statement…not a phrase…but a word. Just one word.

The word applies to all dimensions of your life: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational. Choosing one word forces you to think deeply about what’s important, not just what’s urgent. It forces you to consider the impact you want to have on others and how you want to feel about yourself when the year is done.

Jon would say the word chooses you as much as you choose it and that was true in my experience. The word I chose during the retreat, and that I’m carrying over to this year, is invest.

I’m in a new season of life where I want to invest in relating to my sons (22 & 18 years old) as adult to adult and not just parent to child. My children don’t “need” me in the same way as they have in years past and sometimes that hurts. Occasionally I find myself mourning the change in our relationship rather than celebrating the season we’ve come through. Invest reminds me to get out of the victim mentality and be active in creating new ways to relate to my children. You never stop being a parent; it just changes complexion over the years.

I want to invest in rediscovering my wife of 26 years and developing new aspects of our relationship. Since our lives are no longer driven by the activities of our children, new doors are open to us that have been closed in the past. I want to invest in personal friendships that have taken a back seat over recent years as my focus has been on family and career. I want to invest in my physical, emotional, and mental health by developing healthy and nourishing hobbies, like cycling and golf.

I want to invest in being a better leader at work, by making a positive contribution to the organization and helping my team members reach new levels of success. I want to invest in my spiritual life by developing more regular times of prayer, meditation, and reading Scripture.

Invest…just one word but multi-dimensional in implication and potential impact.

Life gets busy and we find ourselves occupied with the urgent circumstances that arise. It takes intentional effort to focus our energies and simplify life and the one word process can help in that regard.

So ditch your new year’s resolution, if you haven’t already done so, and choose one word instead. Leave a comment letting me know your one word and why you chose it. I know Jon would appreciate you tweeting him with your one word also.

Make 2015 a great year!

LOS v.2013 – Three Steps to Upgrade Your Leadership Operating System

LOS v2013With 2013 just one day away, it’s time to consider upgrading your LOS—Leadership Operating System. Your LOS is a collection of the leadership traits, styles, techniques, and strategies you use to lead and manage people, and it’s imperative to make sure your LOS is up to date if you want to maximize your effectiveness. Failing to upgrade your LOS may result in your leadership not only becoming outdated and sluggish, you run a higher risk of suffering a fatal system crash.

I recommend you follow these three steps to upgrade your LOS for 2013:

1. Do a backup of 2012 — Before you begin any system update, it’s a good practice to back up your existing data. Backing up your LOS involves taking stock of your leadership experiences this past year. What worked well for you in 2012? Where did you do your best work? Give yourself a pat on the back for your successes and don’t be shy about tactfully sharing them with your boss, especially if he/she isn’t one to naturally recognize your efforts. Conversely, a good LOS backup also involves cataloguing where you fell short and reflecting on the lessons you learned from those experiences.

2. Determine the new LOS programs you want to install — What new things do you need to learn in 2013 in order to be a better leader? Where do you need to improve? The best leaders are continuous learners, always seeking new ways to improve their craft. Examining the areas for improvement you identified in your backup is a good place to start. Another helpful strategy is to ask for feedback, especially from those you lead. It takes some courage and willingness to be vulnerable to ask other people how you can improve, but the uncomfortableness will pale in comparison to the insights you’ll gain.

3. Reboot — It’s time to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your leadership from 2012. Installing an updated LOS means you need to have a fresh start before you can move forward and there’s no better time than the new year to reboot your system. You may have accomplished some amazing things in 2012, and likewise, you may have had some epic failures. But you know what? Your success doesn’t last forever and your failure isn’t fatal. Honor and learn from what 2012 brought you but leave it there in the past. The new year beckons and there is much work to be done.

No one likes following a leader who runs an outdated Leadership Operating System. Running an old LOS may allow you to accomplish the basic tasks of leadership, but if you really want to perform at your best AND get the best out of your followers, take the time to upgrade your LOS to v.2013. You won’t regret it.

Happy New Year!

Three Steps to a Better You in 2012

I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions, probably because I’ve got a crummy track record in keeping them for more than a week or two. Maybe I’m the only one who has struggled with this, but I’m guessing you can probably relate to what I’m saying.

During a recent hike I spent some time in solitude reflecting on what I want to do differently in 2012 and the phrase that kept coming to mind was “be a better you.” So in an effort to avoid repeating history by not keeping specific resolutions, I’ve chosen to focus on a few principles that I think will shape the path for me to be a better version of myself. Perhaps they can help you as you consider what the new year has in store for you.

1. Lift up my eyes – Over the holiday break I’ve been painting several rooms in our house and I’ve noticed a trend. The quality of workmanship of the trim at the top of the walls was less than stellar, but I hadn’t noticed it because I rarely look up. That tends to happen when you live life at eye level.

In 2012 I want to look up more. I want to elevate my perspective about my job, the people I lead, the way I serve others. I believe there is a higher calling inside each of us and I want to be more in tune with that voice this new year.

2. Connect with the core – A necessary companion to elevating my perspective is making sure that my goals for 2012 connect to my core values. Our behavior demonstrates our beliefs. If I say that I value health and well-being, yet continue to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast and neglect to exercise regularly, then my behavior shows that I really don’t value my health.

So one of two things needs to happen. I need to examine, test, and confirm what I say my values are and align my behavior accordingly, or I need to drop the charade and choose some different values.

3. Get emotional – In order to sustain commitment to my goals I have to make sure they stoke my emotional fire. In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath refer to this as “motivating the elephant,” which is the emotional, instinctive part of our personality. Willpower lasts only so long and our “elephant” is very patient, strong, persistent, and will eventually win the battle.

If I’m going to be successful in creating a better version of me in 2012, I have to devise strategies that will direct the energy of my elephant toward achieving my goals rather than working against me.

Whether or not you’ve made specific resolutions for 2012, or simply want to join me on a journey to becoming a better “you,” here’s to a new year of elevating our perspective on life, living out our core values, and tapping into the emotional power within each of us.

Happy New Year!

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