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January 19, 2011
New Year’s resolutions are a tradition in our house. For years we have all shared our personal resolutions – goals, dreams, minor objectives we each had for the coming year. Some fairly ethereal, some specific and measured. More than anything, it was a chance for us to engage as a family and talk about the previous year and what it was we wanted to change or improve.
We had a good time doing that again this year, and as our children have gotten older (now 30 and 26) naturally, their resolutions have changed as well. While it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share theirs, but I thought I would pass along mine. That way, those who know me can help me see that I make progress!
A realization I have had is that I seem more distracted, especially to my family – less in the moment as my wife has said. This isn’t a recent comment, but something that has gradually increased over time. Part of the challenge seems to be that I spend so much time looking backward and forward – somewhat the nature of business, I suppose. The backward gaze comes from trying to interpret monthly, quarterly and annual business performance, determining what history is so that it can be communicated, explained, and adjustments can be made for improvement. (I’m also someone who spends too much time reviewing personal mistakes or transgressions.) The forward looking time involves the continual planning and projecting that goes on in business where inevitably your calendar stretches out months ahead of you and your strategic plan years.
What can be lost is the now. What’s happening right now and do you take the time to focus on it, to enjoy it, and to be in the moment as a leader, colleague, father and husband? That’s what I have determined I want and need to do better. So, here are my self-imposed guidelines for doing a better job of living in the moment.
a. Practice active listening. When you do engage someone at work or home – do it completely. Focus on them, remove all distractions (turn off your phone, the TV, etc) and listen! Good listening also means you ask lots of questions – clarifying questions that allow you to better understand what is being told to you, what’s important, and to get at the root of the issue – which often doesn’t immediately present itself. Don’t jump to conclusions or immediately rush to problem solving.
b. View each encounter you have with the knowledge that learning is going on. What do you want to learn about, what is it that you are hearing, and when you are communicating, what learning are you conveying? What’s your voice tone and body language and what are those physical manifestations telling people that may be in contrast to your words?
c. Practice predictability and remove volatility from your communications. To be in the moment you need to have family, friends, and colleagues able to communicate with you without undue fear of your reaction. See a and b above.
d. Finally – enjoy. This is as simple, and as difficult, as just looking around and appreciating that each moment is unique. You will never have this exact experience again.
Here’s to successful completion of your resolutions for 2011.