1. Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing!
Wise words from a successful entrepreneur in one of our recent Young Presidents’ Organization Forums. CEO giants like Bill Gates credit their ability to avoid “shiny object syndrome” to focus on the most important thing.
The challenge for visionary CEOs is to “See the Future First but Focus on Core Strengths.” What are your core strengths and challenges in 2011? What’s your “Main Thing?”
2. Consider Taking Technology-Free Vacations and a Power Hour.
I spent 4 days in the jungle in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula this past year as part of my 50×50 challenge for my first “Technology-Free” vacation in 8 years! It was indeed a highlight for Mind, Body and Spirit. Several Best Practice Companies are now creating technology-free zones where employees have 1 hour per day to focus on a key priority project free of e-mail intrusion and texting. When you multi-task, you lose 45% efficiency as your brain boots and re-boots. So what are you waiting for? Consider carving out your own “Technology Free Power Hour and or/Vacation to focus on your Main Thing.”
3. There are Years of Yes and Years of No!
A female executive once shared with me that she had decided to “have a year of No” because for her entire life she had been a “Yes go-to” girl and needed to re-generate new creative branches. What is it they say, “If you need something done, always go to the person who has too much to do because they’ll find a way to get it done?”
Whether 2011 is your Year of Yes, Your Year of No, or maybe somewhere in between, I hope that you will take some time in your Tree of Life to rest, renew and develop new creative branches for your continued growth.
4. Take a Ruthless New Year’s Personal Inventory.
While it is healthy and productive to shine a spotlight on personal strengths and minimize weaknesses, it’s sometimes valuable to do an occasional housecleaning and a detailed and personal CSI Inventory of your faults and character defects. Why? So you can determine what to keep and what to throw out as you grow as a leader and a human being.
Examine and follow the evidence of your mistakes and learn from them. Update your mental and emotional wardrobe. Keep what fits and throw out what doesn’t. This leaves room for a better you.
5. Go for more “Face Time” and less “Facebook Time.”
I for one took a Facebook-Free Holiday to spend more time with people than machines. Rather than documenting the moment and life, consider spending more time living and leading it.
6. The Power of a 3-Letter Word and It’s Not Yes!
We know the brain believes a truth or a lie and is susceptible to positive programming. Thanks to a great spiritual teacher from India, I learned the power of 1 word: “Not.” When I think to say to myself, “I’m stressed,” I simply insert that 3-letter word and utter, “Not stressed” or “Not busy” or “Not angry.” Amazing results.
7. Is Thank You overused?
In some cultures, “Thank you” is typically reserved for a very special appreciation, and not used when someone brings you a cup of coffee, for example. Thank you ceremonies and rituals, particularly in Asian Cultures, can be utterly overwhelming to the recipient who is honored with a special presentation. I received and was wrapped in a Sari by school teachers in India following a training program I delivered on Super Power Leadership. So by all means, if it’s your culture’s tradition, do use and even over-use “Thank You;” but if special appreciation is warranted, consider a unique and awesome expression that extends beyond “Thank You; Hey Thanks,” which is why hand-written thank you notes versus an e-mail in these high-tech days feels like you just received a dozen roses.
8. Let Nature be Your Creative Guide.
Our Creative Problem Solving and Innovation Course for Teams teaches Creative Problem Solving Processes and Tools such as Biomimicry, which uses nature as a creative guide.
Take a Mind Walk in nature as you think of a current challenge. Look for visual connections and solutions to your challenge through examining with focused observations the nature that appears on your path. For example, a building design that is 85% more efficient was developed via close examination of a termite nest.
For every challenge there is a solution to be found in nature if we only take time to see.
9. The Gift of Perspective
Write down 3 things you couldn’t bear to lose. And keep them handy for the next time you complain about a challenge. Ask yourself, compared to losing one of these 3 things, how important is this challenge / problem / inconvenience? Really?
Recently, I received a humbling phone call from a long-time employee of ours in Costa Rica. Lola has been more of a family member to us, and she was calling to tell us that she had lost her daughter and grandchild in the terrible flooding and sudden mudslides that wiped out a small village here in the tropical paradise.
Life’s hardest lessons and losses teach us what’s really important.
10. Know the Answer to What Gives You Joy?
A friend of mine spent an hour asking me the same question over and over again as part of her 50×50 gift.
“What gives you Joy? What gives you joy, Rosemary? What really gives you joy?”
This broken-record technique will at first make you laugh and may have you wanting to strangle your friendly interrogator, but eventually, you drill down below the surface and first thoughts to much deeper layers.
You may surprise yourself.
So, what gives you Joy? Really, what gives you Joy? I ask you again, what gives you Joy?
11. The Girl Scout Motto, “Make New Friends but Keep the Old.”
People come in and out of our life in different seasons and for different reasons. Make a list of your life’s visitors and long-term guests. What are their qualities you most admire? What are your special memories? And in what ways has your own life been enriched by their gifts?
Call or write to them and let them know! P.S. We’re not counting Facebook! An old-fashioned letter, a phone call or a personal visit certainly qualify as honoring the gift of friendship.
Rosemary Rein, Ph.D is the Author of “Go Wild! Survival Skills for Business and Life” and a contributing author of “Blueprint for Success” with Dr. Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. She speaks internationally on leadership, communications and creativity and works with companies in setting up their organizational think tanks and creative processes. Visit Rosemary for additional resources on establishing a year-round culture of creativity in your organization at www.gowildgogreat.com or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org