setting New Year's resolutions greg bustin

How to Defy the Odds of Failure

  1. January 10th, 2012  | 

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Published in Leadership, Strategic Planning

Setting New Year’s Resolutions: Defy Failure This Year

It’s the dawn of a New Year. Are you setting New Year’s resolutions?

Studies show that the resolutions most of us make last three to five weeks.

In the strategic planning sessions I lead and the coaching sessions I conduct, I help CEOs and leadership teams set individual and organizational goals and objectives. And I act as a sort of human cattle prod to hold them accountable to the goals they have pinpointed as important to them.

These CEOs and I defy those resolutions studies. Here’s how.

The CEOs I work with tell me the process of thinking about a desired outcome and writing it down embeds that idea into their subconscious and begins to harness energy to make that outcome a reality. Then, after defining those goals, we create a plan to hold all employees accountable to those goals, cementing our agreements and guaranteeing a significant increase in the probability the goal will be achieved. A written plan developed by the team is key. The CEOs also say it’s good to have a human cattle prod.

Recently, I was reviewing goals I’d set for myself in December 2008. Seems like a long time ago. One goal I’d set was to conduct my accountability workshop in the U.K. by 2011. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I wanted to give it a shot. By reaching out to trusted experts who also happened to be friends, last year I traveled to the U.K. and was the keynote presenter at a Vistage Open Day event attended by 100 executives in Cardiff, and then addressed five different CEO groups in London, Coventry, York, Bracknell and then back to Cardiff. What a blast.

It’s amazing that when we write something down and hold ourselves accountable, our odds of achieving our resolutions and goals increase. If you weren’t going to set any, maybe you should rethink setting New Year’s resolutions.

Leaders are courageous, clear and compassionate

You may recall that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday this year.

My wife and I were in our favorite pew that day and were treated to a message from Rev. Dr. Rebecca Frank that’s tailor-made for leaders.

Using Matthew 25:31-46 as her text, Rebecca suggested that there are two kinds of people:

Those that feel the rain, and those that just get wet.
Those who love Bob Dylan, and those who don’t.
Those who make your life brighter and better, and those who make it darker and harder.
Those whose presence brings out the best in you, and those who bring out the worst.
Those concerned about doing the work, and those concerned about getting the credit.
Those who leave you feeling full of life, and those who leave you feeling empty.
Those who listen when others are talking, and those who wait when others are talking.
Those who are motivated by love, and those who are motivated by fear.
Those who give, and those who take.

What kind of leader are you? Which kind do you want to be? Which way of conducting yourself and your business will you choose for 2012?

If you choose the first half of each sentence, here’s what to do.

It’s up to you as a leader – whether you’re leading a family, a department, a volunteer effort or an entire organization – to be both courageous and compassionate, and provide clear definitions of success and hold those in your group accountable to those goals. Setting New Year’s resolutions is one way to grasp that clear definition of success.

And remember, we often judge ourselves by our intentions yet we judge others by their actions. “How we treat people,” said Rebecca, “how we use our time and energy and resources, how we either give our best selves – or how we fail to – makes all the difference.” Is it giving our best as leaders to have an expectation of someone and not give them a standard for living up to it?

A word of warning

Rebecca also noted that “When you and I choose…the way of generosity it won’t always go well. But my philosophy is this: I’m going to get it wrong occasionally, so I’d rather err on the side of grace, and mercy and kindness. We’ll all get it wrong occasionally, but let’s be those people who err on the side of love.”

She shared this perspective that’s been attributed to Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.

It’s a New Year.

How you lead is up to you.

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 250 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 600 keynotes and workshops on every continent except Antarctica, and he coaches leaders who are inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book— Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) —is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.

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