At the end of 2020 I challenged you to think about your resilience and how we can think of ‘luck’ as ‘preparation for opportunity’.

The dawning of a new year is always an opportunity to think about success, to recalibrate your thinking and re-energise yourself; whether you are updating your bucket list, resetting your business goals or simply trying to improve your health.

It is interesting to ask ourselves why it is that some people need a new year’s resolution in order to shine. Why can’t we operate at full capacity every day; week in, week out, month in, month out? Well, the answer is that some people can and are able to ‘reboot’ on a daily basis to great effect.

Over the past year I have met many successful business owners both in and out of the optics profession. It is fascinating to notice that they are all quite different in many ways, yet all share the same passion for carving their own future by leading or running their own business.

One attribute that I find in the people I coach is the ability and desire to be vulnerable. Letting people catch on that you don’t have all the answers is tough for some leaders, yet it is the basis for success in many cases.

One leader whom I speak with regularly uses the mantra ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’. Socrates once observed: ‘I know that I know nothing.’ If the last year has not proved this to be the case for some people, then nothing ever will. He also said: ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing’. Of course for every proverb there is an equal and opposite proverb, so the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ needs to be mentioned for the sake of balance.

This proverb, points to the idea that unnecessary investigation can lead to danger or misfortune. My experience does not bear this out, as the thirst for learning new things opens doors and opportunities that would otherwise remain firmly closed.

So my challenge for you in the new dawn of 2021, is to identify what are you going to get curious about? What are you going to look deeper into? Are you going to play groundhog day and simply repeat 2020, or are you going to take a leap of faith and try something
different?

One business owner decided last year to try something different. Instead of running her business with her ideas and with her rules, she decided on a different tack. When we reviewed the year in December, I asked her how the business had changed. She explained that she now saw her role as creating the right conditions for growth. Instead of giving her team the answers, she gave them questions and gave them the tools and the authority to make decisions.

By changing from a tight grip to a light touch, she was able to take herself out of the working day more often and anticipate the more strategic changes coming along. This led to less stress and ironically, more control over her business. Instead of lurching from crisis to crisis, she was able to steer the right course through what was probably the strangest year she had been in business so far.

‘Nose in – fingers out’ is a phrase I learned that has always held me in good stead.

So, my challenge to you this month is the same as last January – to try to be more hands off. Try allowing a new system to bed in for longer or allow those responsible for implementing something new time to see what is really happening and fix it themselves.

When things are going well, encourage the team to keep things going by not interfering. If things could be better – try asking questions so that people discover the answers for themselves. Allow your team space and afford your people the opportunity to find ways to improve your businesses processes. After all, they are the ones at the sharp end and they probably know what works and what doesn’t.

In terms of outlook, the importance of having a positive mindset cannot be overestimated. Last year we showed great resilience and creativity in finding ways to rise to the challenges. This year will throw us new and different challenges. Be ready to welcome and embrace those challenges.

Until next time…