Summer is traditionally a quiet time in business here in the Northern hemisphere. Most people are planning to take a break and the usual daily routines are disrupted as people prepare to take leave, then go on holiday, then come back to face a backlog of emails. The subsequent disruption in organisational activity creates some rare time for leaders to think and to ponder how the year is going.
I must stress I am not suggesting you think about work whilst you are on holiday! I recall being in a very nice hotel in Portugal taking in some early morning sunshine in the hotel grounds whilst watching a 50 something year old man kicking a ball with his 10 year old son. He was on his mobile at the same time. The conversation appeared to be with his assistant and he was ‘checking messages’ as it was Monday and he left the office late on Friday apparently so he wanted to see if the world was surviving without him!
His son was getting less than 15% of his attention and I thought it was a tragic scene on several levels…
No, I am talking about the oasis of peace that descends on most organisations when people are away from their desk. This can of course be used for yet more operational activity, email catch up, report writing, etc or it can be used to reflect and to think. Spending time thinking will deliver a lot more value.
What to think about? Here are some thoughts to get you started….
Start with a Positive Focus. What have you done really well so far this year, what are you are proud of and need to do more of before the end of the year? This question helps your brain break free from the shackles of the problem solving mind-set that so dominates your usual day-to-day thinking and gets it to focus on successes.
Then raise the bar. What will it take to make this year the best year ever for you and for your team? What is your aspiration and if failure was not an option then what is really stopping you achieving this? These questions help you stretch beyond the self-imposed limits that your subconscious often sneaks into your thinking in order to prevent you failing. It is protecting your most precious aspect of your personality, your ego! To short circuit this well embedded safety mechanism remember you are only thinking at this stage you are not actually going to do anything!
Then take a look at the gap. What is the gap between your aspiration and current reality? Has this gap always been present or has it just arrived? If so what triggered it into existence? Is this a knowing or a doing gap? In other words do your need some more knowledge or insight in order to close the gap or do you need to change your habits? Be humble in your thinking and ask what help do you need and where best to get this help from. I have found when you ask for help it is amazing how many people step up to give it. They get real pleasure from doing so. It really is a ‘win-win’ unless of course your ego tells you it is a sign of weakness, in which case I suggest you stop this thinking malarkey and get back to sending some more emails…..
Finally, make a commitment. If you could change one thing about the way you work what would that be and why? This question bridges from thinking into action. I deliberately suggest you change only one thing as breaking habits is hard. It requires a lot of persistence and positive reinforcement to achieve so don’t stretch yourself too thin. Start with the end in mind – What would success by Christmas look and feel like? Make it something worth celebrating
The operational treadmill will start to spin back up to speed in a few short weeks so don’t miss the window of opportunity this annual lull in activity brings. If you are using this time to revise and re-set your organisational or operational strategy ahead of the budget process then take a look at our Strategic Health Check it will provide you with yet more food for thought.