By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO.
So, here we are, and 2019 is coming to a close. Regardless if it’s been a great year or a down year, it’s about to be in the rearview and is the ideal time to examine what we’ve accomplished (and not). It’s that time where previous business plans are reviewed and new business plans are generated. SWOT analyses, budgets, client and prospect lists, hiring practices, marketing content, go-to-market strategies, and countless other nuanced changes or major overhauls are considered both personally and professionally. These are worthy and necessary exercises.
Earlier this week, we brought our various team members from around the country to our HQ offices in DC for a very productive day of reviewing annual metrics, goals, personal business plans, and best practices followed by a wonderful celebratory night of food, drink, and good times. I bet most of you reading this experienced something similar; those are fun, feel-good events and well-deserved. Most of us will settle into some downtime over the holidays (I happen to love it when Christmas and New Year’s are on a Wednesday!) and it’s truly a great time to recharge our individual batteries. This is a warm and healthy respite. After plenty of eggnog (or whatever else you’re drinking), this downtime can also serve as a fine period of reflection of what we’ve done, deliberation on what we want, and strategies on how we are going to achieve it.
In past blogs and in plenty of work-life scenarios, I’ve mentioned excerpts from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. I first read this book 25 years ago and my favorite expression has always been “desire is the starting point of all achievement”…and believe it in my core to this day. We can’t achieve anything if we don’t really have that burning desire to make it happen. If one has that burning desire to make it happen, they’ll also have the will to plan, to iterate, and to actualize. I thought it made sense to provide what Hill calls “personal inventory questions” since his entire thesis was captured by interviewing hundreds of the most successful leaders and business people over many years. Here are Hill’s 28 self-examination questions from “Think and Grow Rich”:
- Have I attained the goal which I established as my objective for this year? (You should work with a definite yearly objective to be attained as a part of your major life objective).
- Have I delivered service of the best possible QUALITY of which I was capable, or could I have improved any part of this service?
- Have I delivered service in the greatest possible QUANTITY of which I was capable?
- Has the spirit of my conduct been harmonious and cooperative at all times?
- Have I permitted the habit of PROCRASTINATION to decrease my efficiency, and if so, to what extent?
- Have I improved my PERSONALITY, and if so, in what ways?
- Have I been PERSISTENT in following my plans through to completion?
- Have I reached DECISIONS PROMPTLY AND DEFINITELY on all occasions?
- Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears to decrease my efficiency?
- Have I been either “over-cautious,” or “under-cautious?”
- Has my relationship with my associates in work been pleasant, or unpleasant? If it has been unpleasant, has the fault been partly, or wholly mine?
- Have I dissipated any of my energy through lack of CONCENTRATION of effort?
- Have I been open-minded and tolerant in connection with all subjects?
- In what way have I improved my ability to render service?
- Have I been intemperate in any of my habits?
- Have I expressed, either openly or secretly, any form of EGOTISM?
- Has my conduct toward my associates been such that it has induced them to RESPECT me?
- Have my opinions and DECISIONS been based upon guesswork, or accuracy of analysis and THOUGHT?
- Have I followed the habit of budgeting my time, my expenses, and my income, and have I been conservative in these budgets?
- How much time have I devoted to UNPROFITABLE effort which I might have used to better advantage?
- How may I RE-BUDGET my time, and change my habits so I will be more efficient during the coming year?
- Have I been guilty of any conduct which was not approved by my conscience?
- In what ways have I rendered MORE SERVICE AND BETTER SERVICE than I was paid to render?
- Have I been unfair to anyone, and if so, in what way?
- If I had been the purchaser of my own services for the year, would I be satisfied with my purchase?
- Am I in the right vocation, and if not, why not?
- Has the purchaser of my services been satisfied with the service I have rendered, and if not, why not?
- What is my present rating on the fundamental principles of success? (Make this rating fairly, and frankly, and have it checked by someone who is courageous enough to do it accurately).
I don’t know if all of these questions are necessary for every one of us, but they’re time tested and proven to help professionals analyze their results, their effort, their attitude, their opportunity, their happiness, and more. Self-examination is not the same as self-criticism so no need to beat ourselves up for any shortcomings. In fact, this analysis should be revelatory and motivating if we go about it the right way. So take the time to discern what is truly important to you. Define it. And then set a course, with a burning desire, to make it your imminent reality.
Happy New Year, everyone. Make it happen.