Time to think slowly, and take the opportunities that 2018 will bring.
This is a slightly longer blog than usual. As you read this, you probably have a hundred thoughts on your mind: Organising, presents, parties, shopping for food, writing cards – the list of tasks goes on and on. And that’s once those end of year work deadlines are completed.
Hopefully, you will find time to Pause over the holiday period. To reflect, look back on the year, pick over those memorable moments of 2017. To ask yourself what went well and made you happy, what made you laugh, what made you sad. Reflections are important, it’s all too easy to lose the importance of quiet time, of taking things slowly, when everything seems so fast, and instantly available. Chances are you’ve forgotten how to do it, or will forget to do it amongst the clamour for fun, family time and festivities over the coming days. We need to do slow thinking if we are to change, to think more about what we would like to be different in 2018. How can we make changes, find purpose or commit to new goals in the new year? Only through slow thinking can we challenge the assumptions – to ask ourselves what alternative perspectives or possibilities are there – or to explore the well trodden pathways of our memories anew. Only through slow thinking can we imagine new possibilities and explore how we might bring them into existence. To do this, you schedule some time for yourself, a quiet time – a walk in the country perhaps (without the latest remote controlled gadget in tow) – or just separate yourself from electronic devices, to disconnect your fast thinking minds and begin to notice you and the world around you.
One thing that Christmas often brings is a heightened consciousness about those left fortunate than us. Christmas charity appeals and becoming more aware about the plight of others are part of recognising that Christmas is a time for putting other people first. Spending time with relatives and friends, thinking about others, and seeking to help through some act of kindness brings us happiness. And, as our thoughts turn to 2018, we wonder whether there is a way to maintain these connections, helping others, doing good into 2018? Even, is there a way I can become that better version of myself, through helping others? Could I use new experiences to learn, experience new things and give back to others. So, here’s an idea to leave you with in 2017:
Why don’t you engage with a social enterprise in 2018? A social enterprise is a project that engages with and offers value to members of your local community. Formed of a group of like minded individuals they are usually designed to help others – often the people involved with the project – in need. It may be that your company is already affiliated with one or more. OR you could just set one up of your own. Working and using your skills are a great way to “give back,” to build purpose or significance into your life, that may have got lost in the volatile and complex worlds of your day to day job. More than that, I think the skills you learn on taking on such a project may help you develop exactly the skills you need to thrive in your workplace.
Here are 3 hows:
Building relationships, taking on alternative perspectives. As leadership moves to a more horizontal, distributed paradigm, the onus on building relationships with diverse groups of people becomes ever greater. Successful leaders are able to influence across their enterprise; to find, meet and engage with people who may be very different to them. Working within a social enterprise will give you exactly the opportunity to meet people probably very different from yourself, to practice your influence and relationship building skills, and to listen to alternative perspectives and find common ground between different stakeholders.
Learn how to lead through uncertainty. One of the biggest challenges leaders face today is how to manage during periods of uncertainty. When they no longer have answers to the problems, and become increasingly reliant on others and their ideas. Exposing yourself to a new project will force you out of your comfort zone. When you are no longer the smartest guy in the room, you are forced to access skills around problem solving, listening, identifying options and making plans. You are forced to lean on your network to acquire knowledge, or build a new network to access support. Skills that will stand you in good stead as you reach out across your own company to become a more effective leader across the network.
Connecting to purpose, and engaging differently with work. The experience of making a contribution to something that is outside of ourselves is the very definition of finding meaning. In an era where employers are struggling with reducing engagement, and employees are struggling to find purpose, working on a social enterprise project – doing good – can help us discover both. Through creating positive memories – stories that we can repeat to ourselves and others of how we have helped others, achieved success and overcome difficulties. Over time the effect is to change the way we and others see us. The novel work will – if we continue to reflect – cause us to consider our own purpose and values, what’s truly important to us.
So, if you do decide to make time to reflect over the holiday, and if you do decide you want to make changes in 2018 – go and help other people to be that better version of yourself.
BIG Foundation Challenge 2018 – Come and join us on an unforgettable journey
Tom will be hosting our first event of 2018; Networking for Introverts. If you get anxious just at the thought of networking, then this (evening!) event is an ideal way for you to begin the new year. Click here to register. Please note: Alcohol will be available at this event.