This is such an exciting time of the year... an unconventional reason.

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It's December 23rd and for many people it is two days before Christmas ... an exciting time, particularly if you are under the age of ten. While I very much enjoy the meaning and trappings of Christmas, there is also another reason why this time of the year is very exciting for me.

This is the time of the year when you dust off that annual plan you have made, reflect on what you've done, and celebrate everything you have accomplished over almost 365 days! Very exciting!

I suspect a number of thoughts may be coming to the forefront,

  • "This isn't very "Christmasy"".
  • "I'm not sure where my plan is?"
  • "My bad... I didn't put a plan together this year. It's in my head though."
  • "Wait a second, the year isn't over yet... why would I review my plan?"
  • "Did you get me a gift this year?"

Before you go back to those presents you have to wrap, hear me out.

At the very least this offers a reminder to have an annual plan! As the popular saying goes, "It doesn't matter which road you take if you don't know where you are going"; I wrote a post at the beginning of the year entitled "Write something down... anything." about the importance of having one - It's crucial for any success.

To the question, "Why write it down?"... so you can measure it of course. You can review everything you've done and how all of your activities align with your plan. You have to admit that it's all getting rather exciting!

For 365 days we are accomplishing things and as days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, it all becomes a blur with one thing followed by another. This is an opportunity to actually review what you have accomplished, and as experience has shown, if you take some time to review what you have accomplished, you will be pleasantly surprised. Alignment with your plan is just the formality to ensure you are moving towards your goals.

Why now though?

With a handful of days left in the year, you know what else is going to happen with 99.9 % certainty and what you have to do... trying to implement any last minute miracles doesn't constitute being part of a plan, and is most likely wasted energy. So my thinking is why not use the remainder of the year to celebrate, review the lessons learned and get ready - At 12:00am on January 1, 2016 it will be time to look forward to a brand new year of infinite possibilities... it is not the time to look back.

And what is really exciting about 2016 is that it's a leap year! That is 366 days to accomplish amazing things.


PS: Don't get me wrong, I still believe in Christmas miracles. I'm just suggesting it shouldn't be part of your plan.

What do you see when you look at this picture?

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There seems to be some question regarding this photograph.

Is it a pithy motivational saying for your wall; a commentary as to why many people miss opportunities; a reminder that nothing comes without hard work; or just a bad picture with a scratch?  The fact is it doesn't really matter what it is ... it really doesn't.

What does matter though, is the discussion as to what it is.

I am reminded of a story* told a while back about an executive team that was vigorously debating it's strategic direction and the Commercial Leader was adamantly opposed to the proposed line of thinking. The discussions went on and on and on... and on some more. Finally having heard enough, the CEO decided in favour of the proposal. In turn, the Commercial Leader simply said, "You have my total alignment and support. We will exceed expectations."

After the meeting, the Commercial Leader was asked how she could support something that she was so adamantly against. To that, the leader said what's important was her thoughts were heard and part of the discussion... all she could ask was to be part of the discussion, and once a decision is made, her job is to support that decision to the best of her ability and make it work. 

For me, the takeaways of the story are:

  • It is important to be part of the discussion as it makes for better decisions.
  • Involvement encourages buy-in and alignment.
  • Someone has to make a decision... it is the only way to get something done.
  • Once a decision has been made, you must support it to the best of your ability.

With regard to that photograph... I think it's a bad photograph with a scratch.

What do you think?


* The spirit of this story is good ol' business debate and does not involve illegal, unethical or nefarious issues.


Leadership defined with four simple words.

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I have noticed this phenomenon occurring more than a handful of times so I believe it can be categorized as a "working rule"... or at the very least, a nice segue. 

The working rule goes something like this - When asked the question "How are you doing?", a North American will 99 out of 100 times tell you they are "good", "wonderful", "doing really well", or something to this effect, whereas a European will offer a response more accurate to their current well being -  For a European, the question is not simply a social courtesy as you buy a coffee, but a true opportunity to engage, share, connect and tell you "how they are really doing".

"Working Rule" or nice segue, this does offer an opportunity to look at four words as a reflection of leadership.

A quick Internet search on the "qualities of good leadership" will offer up 57,500,000 results in speedy order - All offering a perspective on stepping up your leadership game.

A FastCompany article for example, offers up these five qualities essential for leaders: 

  • The first of these is being flexible.
  • The second characteristic is being able to communicate.
  • The third characteristic of good leaders - or, perhaps, a group of characteristics - is having courage, tenacity and patience.
  • A fourth necessary characteristic is the combination of humility and presence.
  • The fifth and final characteristic of a successful leader is being responsible.

A Forbes article offered up 10 Top Qualities of Leadership; offered up 9 traits; had 23... all followed by 57,499,996 other perspectives. Although I have not read them all, I will say with great certainty that PEOPLE are the central theme of any perspective on leadership. And this brings us neatly back to the question, "How are you doing?" - A personal question that creates connection, understanding, and the opportunity for discussion; isn't that what leadership is all about?  I will say, "almost"

If PEOPLE are the central theme of any perspective on leadership, then the question "How are you doing?" falls short with its singular perspective focusing on a person. Leadership needs a more rounded discussion that comes with another four words, "How am I doing?" When you bring this question into the conversation, you immediately bring in a second perspective and make PEOPLE the central theme - Now you have leadership.

And that working rule that started this whole thing becomes a solid reminder that with these questions, you have to explore any answers deeper and move past the veneer of the initial response... that is where the leadership gold is found.

Besides, what would you think of a leader who didn't ask, "How am I doing?"