Tips from the Tardis
Learn from the past or you’re doomed.
Yes, doomed full stop. It’s at this time of year that many of my friends and colleagues are numbered amongst those that are already winding down. Okay, there are some staff appraisals on the near horizon but end of year results are already locked in and everybody knows it. Truth be known, I suspect a number of people have already begun the ill-advised practice of substituting coffee and muesli bars for blueberry almond martinis at morning tea time. Such is life in the farce lane when late December/early Jan gives rise to those who have mastered the dark arts of pretending to be busy. [See level 5 alt-tab manoeuvres for multi-screen youtube to spreadsheets exponents]
Here’s the problem – or at least one of them. There’s something about the end of year review in its current and most accepted form that doesn’t seem to make sense… at all. There’s a separation, a chasm, a gulf between the year that’s been and the year to come. I’m not saying that people don’t come to their end of year reviews prepared to discuss the upcoming year. Not at all. I’m suggesting that there’s something missing that allows us to utterly dismiss the year that was – consign it to the an… (wait, one ‘n’ or two? Must limit the cocktail intake at morning tea – it’s two) annals of history as it were – for better and/or for worse.
The missing link
Two words followed rapidly by two, increasingly dramatic but very necessary pieces of punctuation. That’s the missing link. Rather than simply reviewing 2018 and treating it as a mutually exclusive 365 day event before dutifully moving onto telling lies about what you’ll achieve in 2019, why not examine the link.
Here’s an example: “because we achieved abc during q2-3 of last year we can now plan and execute an accelerated series of events to achieve def which negates the need for ghi allowing us to hit klm 3 months earlier than originally planned.” For past masters of long-term planning this is all a bit ho-hum. But it shouldn’t be. The unconsciously competent are often among the most unconscionable transgressors. I mean, the auto-pilot button is right there, it’s hard not to activate it, recline your pilot seat and grab a few z-z-z’s before the senior cabin crew member nudges you awake with latest Neil Perry-inspired meal in-cabin meal.
Reminds me of a funny story (ed. Uh-oh, feel free to skip this paragraph if you’re pressed for time). I was waiting to board a Sydney to Brisbane flight with a colleague from my corporate and regulatory affairs days. The flight was delayed for almost half an hour before we were allowed to board. Back then, I didn’t weigh as much as I do now as I was sporting a corporate, clipper cut fade as opposed to the 3kg+ of glorious dreadlocks that camouflage the confronting view of my oddly thick neck. Nonetheless, all and sundry could see that I was a girthy gent that had never said no to a steak sandwich, sandwiched between heavy sets of bench-pressing. Youth. I finally, shoehorned my frame into an over-wing seat in economy next to my hapless colleague, buckled up and waited for take-off. Sitting there all snug, next to a barely alive colleague gasping for air (I tend to spread out when dozing), I realised I’d dozed off for about 20minutes. I was woken by a member of the cabin crew informing us that we would be disembarking and catching the next flight bound for Brisbane because (wait for it), the Captain was having a problem with his seat. He wasn’t happy with his seat. I was a 105kg ex-football player in a 3-piece, slim-fit suit (my vanity knew no bounds in my younger years) wedged into an economy seat, barely able to manoeuvre my now numb hands towards the tray table. I wasn’t happy with my seat.
I later came to my senses realising of course, that the person in charge of landing a plane that was travelling at 700km/h onto an elongated driveway, richly deserved the best seats in the house (or aircraft) as well as a snooze and delicious meal. Perspective, huh?
ANYWAY… (ed. Wow!) autopilot, …catching a few z-z-z’s, …Neil Perry. Yes, that was it. It’s far too easy for proven planners to make the leap between data, action and positive impact while assuming that their assumed knowledge is both assumed and common. Likewise, the well-intentioned do in fact, find that the road to hellish mediocrity is paved with good intentions. Simply, wanting to actively participate in a useful year-end review is not enough. As is the case with most important pursuits, knowing how is just as important as knowing why.
The fabled missing link in all this is a three-act play:
Act 1 – Understanding how your results feed up to company results and why those numbers/metrics/indicators (key performance or otherwise) are important to the business, potentially the market, definitely your job and perhaps even to your career.
Act 2 – Coming to grips with how you could positively impact positive indicators. Two things here. Firstly, adopting the “Belichikian ideal” of “doing your job” is 100% fine if you’re a defensive phenom for the New England Patriots. However, you may be a far less gifted athlete playing for higher stakes for a lot less money. If that’s the case, maybe look outside the “good results for good people” playbook and think about how your value can and should be tethered to increasing the business’s value. Secondly, the closer you get to the driver’s seat, the closer you are to defining your journey. That’s all well and good but again, understanding the value of choosing the right destination for you is, as always, the difference between having the time of your life in some far-flung luxury resort and having that romantic retreat with that special someone punctuated hourly by the rowdy “Love Island” rejects shotgunning beers on the neighbouring balcony. Worklife can be like that too.
Act 3 – Courage, candour and competition. Let this three-headed monster carry you to victory. With the:
- courage to look beyond your job description
- honest self-talk that convinces you that unless you distinguish and fulfil yourself, you’ll be hating yourself before your next year end review
- acceptance of the notion that either as an individual or within a team, you are locked in pitched battle against mediocrity and the dreaded status quo
..you can transform the year that was, be it a disaster, another so-so chapter or even a triumph for the ages, into the next chapter of your stirring life story. Too much? Perhaps. Alright definitely too much, but at the risk of coming off like one of those toothy, lantern-jawed motivational speakers, isn’t a full glass of (insert your favourite seasonal cocktail here) better than one that’s only half full? You bet it is (I’m actually high-fiving myself, while firewalking and chest-bumping imaginary self-improvement devotees screaming, “yeah!”, “woo!” and it’s antipodean derivative, “yeee-eeww!”). Jokes aside – I believe it is.
Okay, are we warmed up?
Great, have a wonderful, fulfilling and safe 2019.
PS martinis are only for morning tea. Just wanted to be super clear on that point.