It’s the end of the year and what a year it has been! As we approach the holiday season it’s a time of reflection and a time to celebrate the year and look forward to 2023.
Every year, I do a deep reflection on the previous year and a goal-setting session for the coming year ahead. I attribute doing these two specific exercises to my success because if you aren’t reflecting, how do you know your trajectory. If you aren’t planning, you are wandering without a target.
As we close out the year, we’ve grown our gym, I have accomplished some personal firsts - completing a triathlon and marathon, and have my second book on the way and ready to be published soon (be on the lookout for it!). Along the road, I’ve learned many lessons. Some lessons are personal, some are leadership, some are habit-based, some are basic life lessons, but here are 16 from the past year:
You can always find a win.
No matter how bad a day it has been or how bad a week it has been, you can find a win. Why is that important? If you are only looking at your losses and focusing on the negative, your energy is being spent in the wrong place.
Boring can be good.
If you’re always looking for that new thing, or that shiny object, you’re going to continue bouncing around and never get good at something. If you want to run a marathon, if you want to develop a skill, if you want to do anything better, get used to boring. You must be consistent and a lot of times, consistent can mean boring.
If you have a lot of priorities, you have no priorities. The more you can simplify areas of your life, the better off you will be. If you want to develop a habit, don’t try to do too much as you will almost always fail. If you make it simple though and focus on the basics, your chances of success will increase tremendously.
It’s okay to have a bad day.
Everyone has bad days and that’s okay. People who say you can’t have a bad day aren’t being realistic. Some days you just don’t have it and everything you touch seems to fail. Chalk it up to a bad day and get back at it the next one. When you start stacking up bad days in a row, that’s when you have a problem.
Staying in your comfort zone is well, comfortable. It’s okay to be in that zone most of the time, BUT not all of the time. If you stay in that comfort zone, how are you growing? That’s where you stay stagnant. Challenge yourself. Sign up for an event, do something hard, try to develop a new skill. When you do this and get outside your comfort zone, this is where you grow.
Lean on your team
Everyone has a team. It could be employees, it could be family, it could be friends, but everyone has a team. When you try to do everything yourself, you limit yourself. If you lean on your team, you can grow exponentially.
If you don’t establish the line, it will get pushed.
Without expectations, there are no targets. As a leader, it’s up to you to establish expectations and be clear. If you aren’t clear, you can’t expect others to follow and do what you ask. And without expectations set, that imaginary line that you failed to establish will keep getting pushed.
Give people the benefit of the doubt until they don’t deserve it
Pessimists are poor leaders. Believe in yourself and believe in your people. People want to follow optimists and believers. If an employee is having a tough go of it, give them the benefit of the doubt and help them. Most of the time, they will appreciate that. If they start taking advantage of it, that’s when you have to make a shift.
Address a problem/issue when it arises
It’s easier to address a problem when it first arises instead of putting it off until it’s too late. If you don’t address things up front, that problem over time creates a big crack that keeps growing and pretty soon, it’s too big to come back from. If you have a problem or issue, address it sooner rather than later.
Being a leader requires you to hold people accountable. On the accountability-love continuum, you have to be able to do both. If you’re showing too much love, how are you going to hold someone accountable? If you’re showing too much accountability and no love, how do you expect someone to do a good job and want to follow you? You can hold people accountable and show them love. If you show them you care with a love tough approach, they will appreciate you holding them accountable and helping them grow.
Be the bigger person
Don’t try to win every argument. If you always need to be right, it’s an ego problem. The sooner you figure that out, the happier you will be.
Cut out the things that bring no benefit
Do you often find yourself wondering why you are doing a certain thing so often? If not, go ahead, open up your phone and look at the screen time spent. I’m not saying chuck your phone in the garbage (although simpler times before smartphones!). Instead, what is important to you in life? Do more of those things! Hang out with those people! Fill your cup up with those activities. What doesn’t fulfill you? Work on cutting it out. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s a bad habit, maybe it’s a person. Sometimes it’s hard at first, but you will benefit in the long run.
When the going gets tough, show up
Life isn’t easy. There will be tough times, but even in those tough times it’s important to show up. You may not have your “A-Game” but if you show up and do the best you can on that given day, that’s all you can ask of yourself. Show up to work and give it your best. Show up at the gym and give it your best. Show up at home and give it your best. Your future self will appreciate it AND those around you will be grateful for your efforts.
I’m certainly not a big spontaneity guy, but this past year was a year of spontaneity. Last-minute trips (Ireland for a weekend and Final Four!) are where memories are made. It doesn’t have to be a trip but be adventurous. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Remember the movie “Along Came Polly” with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Anniston? Ben Stiller played a character who had every minute planned and his job was in risk assessment. He knew the risk of everything and NEVER took a risk. Jennifer Anniston played the opposite character, one who took plenty of chances. Listen, I’m not saying go do crazy things all of the time, but you have to chance it a little. If I didn’t take a chance to start a business, there’s no Adam Clark Fitness. Take risks, they get you outside of your comfort zone (and you grow!).
No one likes an excuse-maker. Own your mistakes. If it’s your bad, own it. If you didn’t do something correctly, own it. People will respect you way more if you own your actions. Not everything is going to go to plan and that’s okay. Own it, it’s part of being a leader (something those in Washington could learn to do!).
2022 was a good year. Sure, it had ups and downs but overall, I am healthy, happy and headed into the new year with a great group around me.
What lesson speaks to you most? I’d love to hear which one (or maybe multiple!).