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Three Ways to Lead Yourself Better This Year

January 26, 2021
Leader's Journey
Joseph Cook

Do Not Waste 2020

I, Joseph Cook, have a confession to make – 2020 was one of the hardest years of my life. I have a feeling I am not alone in that stance, as last year was a conglomerate storm of a worldwide pandemic, social injustice, political divisiveness, and more. As chaotic as 2020 was, the only thing worse than the most difficult year of your life would be wasting it.

Speaking of “difficult,” I am reminded of the game of golf. In this game, putting is one of the most important skills that determine a golfer’s success, but it can also be a challenging skill to master. A common scenario every golfer has experienced is the mistake of putting the ball past the hole.

When this happens, it is typical for a golfer to close their eyes or turn away to save themselves from the burden of watching their failure take place; however, top performers will keep their eyes on the ball as it rolls past the hole because the path the ball takes past the hole gives them crucial clues for how to hit the ball back to the hole on their next shot.

At WinShape Teams, our passion is seeing the redemption of leadership, teamsmanship, and followership through the application of Biblical truth. In many ways, the difficult circumstances throughout 2020 exposed areas of our lives that need to be redeemed, especially when it comes to leading, teaming, and following well.

If last year represents a ball rolling past the hole we were shooting for, we have an opportunity to assess our current reality by examining the path the ball took instead of turning away and forgetting the events that occurred.

To avoid wasting last year, there are three ways we can use what happened in 2020 to lead ourselves more effectively in 2021:

  1. Clarify Your Priorities
  2. Learn to Adapt
  3. Chase Growth Opportunities
Girl Smiling

Clarify Your Priorities

The first way to lead yourself more effectively in 2021 is to clarify your priorities. Bright sides rarely exist during a global pandemic, but one positive result a chaotic situation can bring is the reminder that the most important thing in life is remembering what things are most important.

When a storm came through our neighborhood last fall, we lost power for three days. Everything in our refrigerator was being threatened, and we had to make a timely decision about what we wanted to save and what we were willing to lose. When it came to our food, we prioritized what we valued the most (seek me out to find out what these items were).

“ It’s not hard to make decisions, once you know what your values are.”

– Roy E. Disney

It is easy for our lives to become cluttered without us noticing, and clutter can create unnecessary confusion. Whether it comes to food or the other areas of your life, remove the clutter and confusion by thinking about what you value the most, and allow yourself to prioritize these things.

A helpful tip for clarifying your 2021 priorities is to think about the events that occurred in 2020. When the various aspects of your life were threatened, what areas did you work hard to protect? What do you regret not protecting in 2020 that could have made your life stronger, healthier, or more fulfilling?

The start of a new year will not make all your current problems go away, but it can be a catalytic opportunity to clarify and prioritize what you value most.

Learn to Adapt

The second way to lead yourself better in 2021 is to learn how to adapt when circumstances change. Before moving forward, it is important to know that this tip is most powerful when it is paired with the first tip of clarifying priorities. A critical part of adapting through change is also knowing what needs to stay the same to secure effectiveness.

At WinShape Teams, we build an adaptation plan for every program we lead. It is called the weather back-up plan, and it is a paralleled program we can shift to in case weather or other circumstances force us to adapt. There are parts of the weather back-up program that are identical to the original program, and there are other aspects of the program that need to be adjusted based on the group needs and updated availability of resources.

Last year and henceforth, another adaptation we are planning for is if a group opts for a virtual program rather than an in-person experience. These program adjustments are not changing our purpose and values; they are simply teaching us how to achieve our purpose in different ways. Whatever the adaptation is, however, the key is that we develop a plan to adapt when needed instead of allowing unexpected events to cause inefficient reactions.

While panning adaptations is ideal, there are events in life that we cannot plan for, like a global pandemic forcing us all into remote work and limited resources. While there is not always a developed plan for every circumstance, you can lead yourself and your team better by learning how to adapt when the need arises.

You may have never planned for or experienced a specific problem, but if your priorities are clear and you know how to solve problems well, each problem you encounter becomes much less of an obstacle.

Team Collaborating on a Project

Chase Growth Opportunities

A third way to lead yourself better in 2021 is to chase down growth opportunities. When I think of a word to describe 2020 in a nutshell, “exposing” is the word that I continue to land on. We were all focused on Covid-19 “exposure,” but some other things that were exposed were individual and organizational weaknesses, stressors, motivators, and values.

Each of us is now a responsible steward of the knowledge we received from the cumulative events of 2020. We have an option to leave what we found buried in the sand, but there is another path that involves growth. What transforms a weakness into a growth opportunity is how we steward the moment a weakness is exposed.

One specific growth opportunity available to you this year is participating in a Leadership Retreat facilitated by WinShape Teams. In these summits, several leaders across various industries come together in an experiential and refreshing environment to learn from each other and grow together. Expect to discuss real leadership challenges you may be facing right now (and how to solve them) with other leaders. Summits serve as a reminder that you are not alone in your leadership journey; we are in this together.

The Next Round

Golf is extremely hard, much like leadership. I have left a round of golf many times promising myself I would be selling my clubs the next day, but then I am reminded by the hope of the next round. While hope is one of my core values and pushes me to persevere, a great strategy for growth cannot be built by hope alone.

Mark Miller says, “Hope is not a strategy.” Instead of hoping for a better year in 2021, be proactive to ensure success by clarifying your priorities, learning how to adapt more effectively, and continuing to chase growth opportunities.

You may be learning how to lead yourself, leading others, trying to build a high-performing team, or doing your best to lead a successful organization, but no matter your current situation, WinShape Teams desires to be a resource for you. After all, every successful golfer needs a great caddie.


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