I have been thinking a good deal lately about endings. We are coming down to the end of another year. After two years of working with Plaid, this will be my last article. Recently, my dad passed away suddenly. It has caused me to reflect on the finish line. Whether that finish line is the year, the project, the job or life, it is natural to want approach it with everything tied up in a neat package like a holiday gift. We want to put in the last paragraph to the document, the last slide to the PowerPoint, the last decimal to the spreadsheet. Unfortunately, it usually does not work that way. There are things missed. Problems that could not be solved. Deadlines did not allow all of the research we wanted. Things change. Projects end. Members of the team that we worked so hard to put together move on to new jobs. Companies come and go. Life ebbs and flows.
As I look back over the articles that I have written, the only thing that is constant is relationship. I have talked about how to build teams and how to lead those teams to their individual bests. I have talked a lot about how to overcome conflict rather than letting it overcome you. I have talked about the need to network inside and outside your company. In most companies at the end of the year, there is some kind of summation of the work done for the year. We often call them “Reviews”. Summarizing accomplishments is a good idea despite the fact that it usually comes at the worst possible time for your work load. It forces some time to be taken to reflect. What was actually accomplished? Did you do what you set out to do? If not, why not? If so, good for you. Let’s celebrate.
This year, I would challenge you to ask some different questions. Don’t just ask “What did I accomplish in terms of work this year?” How many sales, contracts, presentations, budgets, reports, projects, etc?” Ask yourself these questions, even if they are not on your MBO form.
-What relationships did I build this year? Whose life did I touch? Whose career – other than my own – did I advance?
-What impact did I have? Was I a positive influence on the people around me, the industry in which I participate, the world in which I live?
-What legacy am I building? This is not just a question for those among us with some years of experience. Even the youngest can begin to think of how they want to change the world. In fact, that is the best time to think of it. I recently met with a young coaching client. She was somewhat pessimistic about the world in which we are living. I told her that I tend to be more optimistic than I was a few years ago. I work with a lot of young people. I think their priorities will change the world for the better. They have the numbers, the drive and the enthusiasm to do it. How do you want to change the world? Will you leave it a better place?
These are the important questions. In the end, they are the only things that last.