It was icy and the pickup truck on the road in front of me started sliding out of control as it rounded a corner on our way back from the ski hill the other day. While others in the car with me were shouting distracting instructions to me, in my head I could hear my father’s voice from my driver training lessons with him saying “Just focus on the road David”. At this point I didn’t worry about the truck ahead, I concentrated on feeling my tires on the road, the road conditions and what was happening around the vehicle.
For many leaders, 2020 was a year when they saw organizations slipping out of control in front of their eyes. Revenues dried up for a month or two, employees didn’t want to come to work, governments and health authorities were shouting out distracting instructions and fear was paramount. Even now, we seem to be on a slippery slope, unending waves of pandemic, new, ever more dangerous virus strains, and considerable anxiety about whether businesses will be able to survive the seemingly endless threats of lockdown.
How do we remain grounded in these turbulent times?
For several years I have been encouraging my clients to name their year as I have. I learned this from Christina Bianchini while presenting at a conference she hosted. The idea of naming a year is geared at helping us to focus on a desired achievement for the year. For example, some people might name their year the year of love, or prosperity, of health or fitness or the year of the marathon. In business a company might name their year the year of transparency, or clarity, of profitability or communication.
Last year I named my year the “year of presence”. I tried to be present in each moment of 2020. I can’t say that I succeeded, but I tried. I pinned up my name of the year on my computer and looked at it every day. I tried to be present to those around me, my clients and my family, as well as being present in my activities.
Having a focus for my year grounded me when I felt out of control, bored, or complacent. When the world news, social media, or other distractions were fighting for my attention, I tried to come back to my goal which was to be present in the moment.
This year is coming to an end and as I look back and evaluate how I did as a husband, father, business owner, employer, coach, or friend, I know I have lots to work on. I have decided that 2021 will be the year of “Listening Deeply”. Like the last few years when I have written down my focus for the year, I have not understood exactly what I am trying to accomplish, I just know that I need to be grounded in a focus. I recognize that I need to become a better listener.
As I explained my focus for 2021 to one of my clients this past week, they commented over zoom that they thought I was a good listener. It was just at that moment that I realized that I wasn’t listening to what they were talking about and I was thinking about something totally irrelevant, confirming my need to focus on listening deeply.
As we returned from the ski-hill, thankfully, the truck in front of me stayed on the highway, and because I was grounded and able to focus on the road, I was able to avoid being frozen in fear which could have resulted in an error of judgement. Being rooted and attentive to a guiding motto, principal or goal can keep us from being distracted while others around us feel out of control.
I encourage you to name the upcoming year and to reflect daily on your goal for the year. Hopefully, come next year, when others have floundered, you will feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment because you have bettered yourself in some little way, that might just change your life.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning Certified Professional Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Naming your year? Dave would love to hear! Email firstname.lastname@example.org