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University of Life Tutorial – time to switch off, reflect and learn.

End of year holidays are on the horizon and its time to plan to switch off for a while at least. This is a much needed break for some of us, a time to re-charge the emotional batteries and spend quality time with loved ones and friends. It is also a great time to do a year end ‘mental health check’ a chance to do a litmus test on our emotional well being and to consider some new habits for next year that will help us become more effective in facing and dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.

As we approach year end I have asked the leadership teams I have been working with to take part in what I call a ‘University of Life (UOL) Tutorial’. The process is simple yet powerful. We all have been students of the UOL, a university where enrolment is mandatory and lessons are given each day, even if we are not really paying attention in class!

To help focus the mind I send out a request for each leader to prepare some thoughts ahead of the final team session that cause them to reflect back over the year and surface insights  that can inform them and their colleagues on what needs to be change in the coming year.  The questions I use are straightforward, they are:

·         What has the last 12 months attending the ‘University of Life’ taught you about yourself, your colleagues and your organisation as a whole?

·         What successes do you believe we should recognise and celebrate either at an individual, team and /or functional level?

·         If you had one piece of feed-forward advice for your colleagues that you believe will help them improve their effectiveness next year, what would that advice be?

So far I have witnessed some remarkably candid reflections and insights which have stimulated a quality of discussion rarely achieved in the operational clamour that fills many leadership team meetings. This time of year creates a unique opportunity to do this as we all have the end of year feeling that helps us with the critical thinking needed.

2016-08-23-11-46-24For what it is worth my insight this year is get a dog, especially if you work at home! I have a Springer Spaniel called Tilly. She bursts out of the door each day as if she has never been out before. Her world is full of fun and she quivers with excitement and barely supressed yelps and barks as she bounds into every new day. Oh to have such energy! It is a visceral reminder that every day brings new opportunities and pleasure if only we start to look for it. Tilly also has the inherent knack of nudging my arm after a couple of hours at the computer, or on the phone, insisting we go out again as the great outdoors beckons. I have to admit when the rain is falling and the wind is howling I am less than keen, but as some wise person once said ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’ and once outside I find the change of scenery, pace and energy invigorating and stimulating. My 1.5 mile morning walk in particular not only sets me up for breakfast, it sets me up for the day.

I realise that not everyone can take their dog to work, but we can all reconnect with a different energy source every few hours. Try it, it will do wonders for your mental health. I am interested to learn your Lessons from Life so please do send me your insights. The UOL is a great institution if we take the time to attend tutorials, if we do not the fees can be very high!

If you would like me to help your team reflect and learn then please contact me and we can talk about how I can help.