by Evan Smith, Featured Contributor
WE’RE IN THE FINAL throes of the year. Time to take stock – and no, I’m not talking about what social media wants to tell us about the year we had (Facebook‘s YIR critiqued; Twitter’s YIR; and many others).
This is a great time of year for real people to take a breath and take stock.
Right about now, many organizations begin to quiet. Perhaps you see it, too, in your work: Many are quietly deferring decisions and new work – mentally and physically “closing the laptop lid”, hitting the ‘PAUSE’ button on the unstoppable flow of demands from 2014. People seem ready to rest, recover, heal, renew – pushing back from desks, smart devices, and holiday rhythms.
Make no mistake – In these last few weeks of 2014, I’m also hearing stories of hunger and frustration – some, desperate to turn late-2014 low-profit situations around, rush to make decisions with imperfect data and even-less-perfect dialog and collaboration, hoping for the best. Some are struggling to create clarity in the 11th hour of their fiscal year, where none has existed before. Many will push hard through year-end.
Whatever camp you fall into, this is a great, threshold time – while the work outcomes, the energies, the celebrations (as well as the wounds) are fresh – to think back across what we’ve individually and collectively completed this year. This is a threshold time because we can look back with clear memories, and look ahead with untarnished aspirations. There’s a clarity now when we can see what is done, never to be undone – as well as look ahead to what is not yet born, nurturing hopes for the best, and shaping the immediate future in the most positive, compelling ways we can.
The Year in Review: Your High Value Work
Of course, naming results is the “price of admission” to the Year in Review. Beyond tangible results, some may gage the “goodness” of the year by the size of the bonus check; others will recognize how much pride they feel in what they’ve helped their organizations to achieve; some, by their visceral sense of comfort from surviving another year in role. Others will stew with the lingering few (or the many) let-downs, failures, … all that did not come out as hoped.
I want to propose a way to consider your own “Year in Review”, a conscious way to think about the work just completed. Rather than doing this exercise silently and alone, sipping a glass of eggnog, please try this another way: create opportunities with your trusted and most important colleagues, friends, associates, staff, partners. This is an opportunity to assess your work this year in a collaborative, public, out-loud and yet personal way.
Your Most Valuable, Important Work Has Been ______________… And It Created _________?
In looking back – and in thinking about how to set the stage for what important work will follow – what would you consider your most significant, important, valuable work this year? What makes it so? What results did the work create (and for whom)? What parts of this most important work went really well – and why would you say so.
How Did I/ We Do It?
Now – With regard to completing this important work – ask yourself: in addition to delivering results – How would you say that you operated? Where would you name ways in which you …
- Affirmed trust with your colleagues and associates?
- Staked out positive, forward-looking positions?
- Offered to others the benefit of the doubt?
- Spoke candidly, courageously, clearly, and simply?
- Thought openly, boldly, fully?
- Prepared well for the important work ahead – both for yourself and your colleagues?
- Balanced the need for speed and timely decisions, with the need to hear other’s relevant and important points of view?
- Brought your best self, your “A game”, the person-you-know-you-can-be, to the work you’ve undertaken?
Importantly – when you ask your colleagues, subordinates and work partners – how do they evaluate your important work together, and your work individually, this year?
Doing this work helps us to see our work in context – and how we may have created it – and what we want to create more of, in the future. For all of us – this simple process of asking and answering these questions can help us to name and celebrate what has truly been great work, this year – and also prepare for opportunities in 2015 to bring more of what is deep within us, our best and most valuable.
Image Credits: © Alphaspirit Dreamstime.com – Look To The Future | Light At The End Of The Tunnel by Steve Ohlsen