December Reflections

December is one of the most interesting months of the year. For one, it seems to fly by (especially compared to February), because of all the holiday activity, and the anticipation of some family time and an extra day or two away from work. The fact that there always seems to be an extra cookie or piece of candy around only makes it pass by even quicker.

For many, December is also a month of a bit more reflection than usual. People are reminded of loved ones who are no longer around, and how important family truly is. And they recap what they accomplished throughout the year, as well as where they fell short. They ponder work highlights and low spots; personal life celebrations and shortcomings. And after that, a number move forward, with renewed conviction, on those inevitable lists of New Year’s resolutions.

There is something rather ironic about these December reflections. Many with whom I have worked over the years have harped about how totally inefficient the annual performance review process is at their places of business. They go on to say how the reviews feel a lot like some ancient ritual, which has to be done. There is little emphasis on whether they are done well and produce more capable employees. It is more about ensuring the documentation is all in place to deal with the expected grumblings about the next round of disappointing pay raises.

If people claim that the annual review process is not so hot, then why is it that so many of them (including many of us) have only one reasonable appraisal of themselves and their lives each year, usually as the year is coming to a close?

There are several, rational explanations as to why. However, my intuition tells me it is likely habit more than anything else. As the final month of the calendar year, when many parts of life are temporarily winding down, December is the perfect time to reflect and ponder. Let me suggest that you now ponder whether that one time per year is enough.

The expression, “you learn from experience,” is only partially correct. More accurately, you learn from reflecting on experience. People have all kinds of experiences every day which immediately evaporate from their memory. How much learning can occur from an experience that leaves no trace of impact? Yet the simple act of reflecting on an experience does ensure it will stick, at least to some degree. That is why taking time to take stock on an experience is so important.

For you to be your best as a leader, you must continue to be a lifelong learner. This will require you to frequently take some time and reflect on yourself, your actions, your “good sides” and “not so good sides,” and the changes you know you need to make in order to be better.

Perhaps on your upcoming New Year’s resolutions, you can commit to some “Me Time” maybe three or four times throughout the year, to help yourself continue to learn and grow. And hopefully, this will be one resolution you do not toss by the first of February.

Enjoy the holidays and Reflect on!

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