The end of the year is a perfect time to look back and evaluate our performances in 2018, but frankly, you should be doing this far more frequently than once per year. In fact, I argue that you should do it once per week at a tactical level, with a once per month check in on broader issues. Take the time. It’s not selfish. It’s important to be deliberate with using time to evaluate yourself so that you can get better. Athletes watch film to find holes in their performance and prepare for the future. Why shouldn’t leaders follow this same cycle each week.
On of the amazing things in the past year has been hearing from so many of you that are accomplishing amazing things in your own lives and pursuing even bigger things. The inspiration that I get from that has been incredible and a truly unexpected surprise. For that, thank you.
What Did I Learn in 2018
Perhaps the most important question one can ask themselves, and one I try to ask myself before bed each night, is what did I learn this day/week/month/year? For me, 2018 was all about time. Learning how to be more deliberate with how I spend it, and learning that I don’t have to crave the huge payout or worldly indicators of success, but rather I need to crave the process of improvement and find a better definition of success – one that involves the quality of my life and the impact I have on others rather than a number in a bank account or a fancy job title.
In fact, I became so consumed by the idea of time and the little that I have remaining, that I started using a death clock to estimate how many days, hours and minutes I have left in my life. While this surely seems morbid, it’s a wonderful reminder to me that money comes and goes, but time is very finite. As a result, I cherish each minute and focus on maximizing its impact. Check out your own death clock at https://www.death-clock.org/.
The Most Impactful Book I Read in 2018
I read a lot. I try to read a book per week. Sometimes I get caught up in something that’s so heavy and so deep that I simply can’t rush it. Right now, I’m working through About Face by David Hackworth (link below). Many people I respect greatly have called this the best leadership book they’ve ever read, and so far, it’s standing up to that billing. But since I’m not yet finished with it, I can’t include it in this list.
The book that most impacted me in 2018 was Originals by Adam Grant (link below). This book explores the different traits and scenarios that are present in people that do remarkable things. Put simply, seemingly every instinct I have was proven wrong by this book. And that’s what makes it so awesome. Any book that can make you challenge yourself and look at yourself critically is a winner, and this will not disappoint. If you want to leave a mark on the world and those closest to you, read this book.
What’s In Store for 2019?
- Get healthy. 2018 beat my body up a bit for a variety of reasons. The aches and pains are starting to add up, and I’m certainly not getting any younger. I need my body to perform at top levels for a long time, and I’m exploring a lot of different ways to recover and prepare it to stand the test of time. Note that this isn’t my non-work life, a healthy body enables a healthy mind, and both of those are massively important for executives.
- Speak more. I’ll be doing a lot more speaking in the upcoming year. Speaking is a wonderful way to interact with new ideas in a real-world forum rather than sitting in front of a book or my laptop where I’m probably a bit more comfortable.
- Teach more. Similar to #3, I’ve learned that I really love teaching and that it actually makes me better at whatever the particular subject matter I’m teaching is. I see this especially with leadership. As I work with clients and individuals regarding leadership skills, I find myself being a better leader. It also helps that it’s a topic I deeply care about.
- Meet more great people (similar to #3 and #4). I’m a bit of a monk by nature, and I don’t like the variability of people. I deeply fear wasting time, and sometimes I find that to be the case with meeting people. But that needs to change because it becomes very limiting. I’ve lately been focusing on really examining each person to learn what their strengths are and what I can learn from them – and yes, everyone has strengths. Plus, I need to learn to accept some variability or risk in my life. If I waste time, so be it, but that’s the cost of doing business, and one that I must incur if I want to experience the richness that meeting incredible people can offer.
- Random challenge. Each year I try to find something that puts me well outside of my comfort zone. In past years, this has been something like learning a new language or Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (which will continue for the rest of my life). I’ve narrowed it down to a few for 2019. One of these potential challenges is pursuing a sommelier certification to more formalize my love for collecting wine. I’ve also debated running my first 100 mile ultra-marathon. The third I’m debating is pursuing a pilot’s license. I really dislike flying so this ratchets up the challenge a bit more. I can’t emphasize this enough for each of you: find something huge. Something that you totally suck at, and pursue it with vigor. Starting from scratch is an incredible exercise that enhances the plasticity of our brains, and above all else, keeps our life on a trajectory of accomplishment.
One final note. This marks the one year anniversary of Leading by the Book. It’s been a great journey so far, with a significant amount of of learning on my part, and also some incredible conversations on the podcast with some great guests. Thanks to each and every one of you that has shared notes with me, listened, and spread the word. You are all very much appreciated, and I find myself continually motivated because of you, and better off for knowing you. In the words of Motley Crue: Years gone by, I’d say we’ve kicked some ass. Here’s to a great 2019. Be great.