Birthdays and anniversaries provide unique opportunities for taking stock and planning ahead.
One of the most important aspects of any journey is to know where you have come from; in order to assess what skills you bring with you and also determine what skills or attributes need to be developed. Then, it is easy to create a map to the future with a strong potential for success. It is a concept I like to refer to as "knowing who you are as well as knowing who you are not." This can be illustrated by the student who learns easy, but does not enjoy the pressure of competing against the top of his class, and comes to the realisation that he would be happier at a less competitive university.
Step 1: Audit yourself
This process involves coming to know yourself at depths greater than many people know how to plumb. It's more than listing your degrees and certifications, your business promotions, or contributions you have made to the strength of your company's bottom line.
Whether you are the CEO, an hourly worker, or head of the family, ask yourself which styles of leadership you have already developed. Now ask which Types [Read my column, Know Who You Are, CW, July 2007], you have not been developed yet. Then, determine what leadership attributes you would like work on and hone during the next year.
The goal during this process is to assess yourself using the metric provided by the universal virtue of objectivity and practicality. This offers the power of discrimination to achieve balanced results. If you find you have fallen short on your objectives, treat yourself lightly and move on. Recognise what you want to change, but don't get caught in a quagmire of self-recrimination, or self-doubt. This only results in lost time and lost energy.
Step 2: Forgiveness through lessons learned
The second stage is, perhaps, the hardest for many people because it involves forgiving yourself and/or others; them making plans for new actions to overcome shortcomings, or problems. After all, before you can fling at someone else, you have to get your own hands dirty. Penetrate the cause of the transgression, or violation, and seek the lesson to be learned, not just for the person, or event that hurt you, but also for yourself. Ask: "If there is something for me to learn from what happened, what would that be?" When the problem is understood, detachment follows, and forgetting the negative experience and traumas of the past is experienced naturally.
Step 3: Action
Once you have cleared the past through forgiveness and determined what attributes in yourself there are to capitalise on and what needs to be further developed, the next step is devising a plan for the future. A birthday, or anniversary, can be a time of great inspiration and new ideas.
How do you put your new insights into the action? For this, you may use the following outline from my book From Success to Fulfillment:
Concretise your ideas
- First, come to know the new idea
- Study and categorise the idea into principles
- Organise the principles into general processes and procedures
- Divide the processes and procedures into more finite methods and techniques
- Devise specific steps
- Create criteria for measuring those steps
- Now, look at pricing, packaging, and sales
- Marketing, continued research, evaluation and refinements follow.
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