Photo by Alex Barth

One of the partners in a prior firm used to come into my office every December and ask two questions:

  1. What do I need to learn this year?
  2. How do I need to change what I do?

Besides putting me on the spot for a meaningful, important answer, I was hugely impressed each time. Bill was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met–both in his broad knowledge and his ability to diagnose problems and generate radical solutions. So, the question he posed was within a personal context of already being quite brilliant. Who do you need to ask these to questions?

When we identify a set of remarkable results for the coming year, we should expect to truly stretch ourselves. Makes sense, of course, but smart people often just get going on the execution. Being reflective takes time away from the pursuit–which is what we love.We generally have courage and confidence in ourselves.

When we do the work to anticipate what we will need to learn, we are likely to also find some aspect in our leadership or way of operating that requires a deeper change. In Robert Quinn’s book Deep Change, he talks about leaders needing to “travel naked into the land of uncertainty” and their ability to “forget what they know and discover what they need to create the future.”   This quality of learning pushes all our fear buttons, but ultimately after several terrifying journeys, these leaders have faith and “know how to get lost with confidence.” Naturally, I loved his words.

The kind of change Quinn talks about is the underlying, systemic change required to achieve a desired result. Changing some fundamental way we are operating—that we have relied on for safety or success. These opportunities for change are often our wired vulnerabilities. What knowledge or capability will be required for you to reach your goals? Do any of them required re-wiring or deep change? If not, you may want to dig a little deeper.

For me, this year, I know that I must play in a bigger arena with great confidence, which is going to require me to see myself differently. I have been happily working privately with my beloved clients, getting great results. But, I’m a little under the radar.  For my coaching, I will need to boldly showcase my work, both to document the successes and to attract the right next clients. I’ve been a little sloppy about this in the past. For my Women2Women2Girls initiative, I will need to have a much more public face and spend the time to build my own supporting network—be “out there” more with a bigger message and bolder stance. I am ready to take a deeper look at myself, because I truly want my targeted results.

What deep change is required for you this year?

P.S., Take a look at the cool picture for this post, especially the message under the road sign. I love Flickr’s Creative Commons.