The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Start the New Year with a “Beginner’s Mind” for Leadership Success

January 18th, 2018

What’s Hot?

When you adopt a “beginner’s mind” – and approach problems as if you don’t know the answer – you are able to come up with more creative solutions that actually work for you, according to Rachel Fintzy, MA, LMFT.  Rachel is a clinical researcher at UCLA who works with people to uncover and develop their unique creative gifts and find personal fulfillment.

So What?

Various studies indicate that more than 90% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them.  Two reasons for such a high failure rate:

  1. Making a resolution requires nada as compared to actually doing something. However, the act of imagining yourself doing something positive triggers your brain to release a small hit of dopamine (causing a natural high). So hoping for achievement provides instant gratification – which doesn’t necessarily spark long-term action.
  2. Speaking of long-term action…Our brains aren’t wired for delayed gratification. That is why a drink at the end of the day is preferable to working out at the gym.

Despite our short-term wiring, we can become better resolution keepers and better leaders.

What To Do?

Fintzy recommends ten questions to ask yourself for a happier New Year in her blog featured in PsychCentral.  Five of her questions relate to what managers can do to connect with what really brings you alive, taps into your values and makes you a better leader.

  1. If I had to pick one goal to achieve this year, what would it be? What can be your first step in that direction? Rather than expending your energy in many different directions, focus on your most important intention. Break down your approach into manageable small steps, using steps 2 thru 5 below and give yourself a timetable.
  1. How do I want to feel? More balanced?  More self-confident?  More enthusiastic about my work?  At the top of my game?  More connected to my boss/team/colleagues? More enthusiastic about my life? More on top of my finances? Happier with my career?

Try to define what a change in the right direction would look like. Instead of saying “I want to be more connected with my team,” come up with a goal such as “I’ll stop by to chat with at least one team member a day to demonstrate my interest in them – their work and their lives.” or “I’ll have coffee with a different team member one day a week.”

  1. What am I willing to do differently? What behavior or attitude am I willing to let go of, even if in the short run this may be uncomfortable? What perspective am I willing to adopt, even if this may feel awkward and not like me? For example, if you want to relinquish control, instead of saying, “I won’t micro-manage,” come up with a goal such as: “I ask each team member what he or she would like to learn more about my job and give him/her the permission, guidance and support to do so.”
  1. How am I using my gifts to contribute? Do I have gifts that I’d like to cultivate?  We all have strengths. A clue to discovering yours, if you haven’t done so already, is to consider what brings you joy and makes you lose track of time. Then identify how this gift might benefit other people and the world.   Example:  “I find opportunities to share my technology skills to help others streamline processes.”  Or, “I tap into my listening skills to ask people questions that help them identify their own solutions.”
  1. How can I allocate my time and energy so that I achieve my goals in 2018? Ask yourself “What do I need to do more of and less of moving forward? Reflect on 2017 and ask yourself, “What did I attempt in 2017 that was easier than I expected it to be? Or harder?  What can I learn about myself last year that will help me spend my time in ways that bring me alive and contribute to success for me, my workgroup and my organization?”

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