As we are settling into the new year, now is the perfect time for self-reflection and planning for everything that you hope to accomplish this year. We often make resolutions—whether they are business or personal goals—without really taking the time to look at how we got to where we are. Then, unfortunately, those resolutions fall by the wayside. The first step to making 2017 a success is devoting time to reflect upon and appreciate everything you have accomplished—what has worked and what needs improvement—even if only incrementally.
The old saying, “Success breeds success,” is the notion that when you are successful it paves the road to even further success. To start off on the right foot, it is important to list your top accomplishments. What did you do personally last year that was a success? What did you do that made your credit union more successful and a better place for its associates and members? It may seem like a daunting task, but upon reflection everyone should be able to name quite a few accomplishments.
Now, why is this exercise important for your success as a leader within your credit union? A friend of mine who works for a credit union in North Carolina told me her direct supervisor indicated that she did not have the experience to remove barriers, to get everyone on the same page during projects and to adapt to new processes. She was completely caught off guard by this feedback, telling me that every day she was doing these things with her associates, mentoring them and leading them through whatever challenges they may have. She simply could not understand how her supervisor did not see these were (as she perceived them) some of her greatest strengths.
Through professional development sessions with her supervisor, she uncovered that while she had great success, she was not communicating the incremental wins and the continuous improvements until the tasks were completed. The issue, she realized, was that she only had in-depth conversations with her manager when there was a problem she was unable to solve. What her supervisor saw was her struggling to resolve these issues. Funny how perceptions are different.
Whatever your situation, do you share all the things you do to make a project successful? Communication is key, and communicating how these obstacles were removed is paramount. While people tend to be modest, there is no harm in sharing your successes, especially if it made processes more efficient and effective. Remember—no one will toot your horn as positively as you will.
What can you do to make your environment more successful, not only for yourself but for those with whom you work/supervise? Block a period of time on your calendar and begin your list of accomplishments. (This is a dynamic list—it will continually evolve.) As you work on your list, there’s no telling how much you will realize you did to improve processes. Keep your list close by, as a sort of reminder to yourself of everything you do and can do.
If it seems difficult to come up with accomplishments, divide it into smaller steps. For instance, what did you do to improve processes within your department? Were you involved in implementing a change initiative throughout the credit union? Were you able to make an arduous process more efficient? These are great successes. Now break it down a bit further—did it take some convincing to get everyone on board with your ideas? What techniques did you use? Who were the decision makers that you had to influence? What challenges or obstacles did you have to navigate? Was it a communications plan you had to develop and present or training you had to deliver? Using this drill-down methodology, your accomplishments list will begin to blossom. The point is, each of these actions is part of the bigger picture. Don't sell yourself short; it takes a lot to do what you do.
Are there any themes that stand out as you review your success list? Working through it, you should begin to see your key areas of strength—solving problems no one else can solve or bringing people together for problem resolution. Identify a couple of connected themes. By tracking these, it can help you remain accountable, enable you to see the progress being made and better identify areas of improvement.
This yearly exercise is a good way to boost your confidence and take pride in the work you do. Review your list regularly and use this as continued motivation to strive for even greater success.