Sometimes we need to lift our heads and figure out where we are going.
I was leading a project team meeting the other day, on a project that’s fairly early on in its lifecycle. We focused on how we could work better as a team. We were supposed to return to the strategic intent of our project, but we ran out of time. We agreed to return to that at our next meeting in the New Year.
I used the analogy of learning to run a three-legged race. If you have ever done this, it was probably at school when you were very young. It is where you are tied leg-to-leg with another person, and then you have to run against other pairs to win. The winning couple is likely to be the pair that learns quickly to run in step. What we were doing at this early stage of that project was to learn to run together.
However, there comes a moment when we need to lift our heads and look where we are running. We didn’t get that far in the meeting. And, for that particular project, that’s fine. We will turn to it next.
But, what about you and me as individuals? When do we lift our heads? When is there an adjustment about the direction of our lives, of our work?
Traditionally, the approaching New Year is a time we attempt to do this, over the year ahead and the year just gone. Some of us make New Year resolutions. Some of us don’t.
Is there a better way to look up, to think longer-term about our work and our lives generally? Is there a way of planning appropriately, twelve months ahead?
What’s the point?
Let’s be clear: we live in a volatile world. For example, I live in Kent, in the south-eastern corner of England, and we do not know what will happen in March 2019 when the current deadline for Brexit arrives. There is so much uncertainty, what is the point of planning? Do I just throw my hands up and say, “What’s the point? I’ll just take life as it comes!”
Well, there is a powerful approach to shaping and executing a purpose in such times. It is an approach that borrows from Appreciative Inquiry and Agile management. It is the one I’m using now as we head towards the end of this calendar year.
Last week, I met with our Outlier Group, a small group of clients who meet together with me once a month. And the topic was Planning My 2019. I set out an adaptive but intentional approach to shaping our lives over the year. And I put it to the Group that now is an excellent time to be purposeful about the year ahead.
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