“What’s going well?” is the first of five questions I ask my clients during our initial Strategy Session. This question is first, because it is one of the hardest questions (second only to my fourth question).1 The question is challenging because high-performing professionals drive toward goals, tweaking things that AREN’T going well and rarely celebrating the things that ARE.
Our measures of success can be so strict, that even small deviations from the plan imply failure. When we are on the cutting-edge, we often set lofty goals without having the required information. When we want results, we set stretch goals to jolt us out of complacency and into action. Maybe it’s not about the specific goals we set, but how we evaluate our progress.
We evaluate our progress with dreaded “accountability.” But my mastermind partner, John Gies, is fond of saying, “Taking account is simply the act of making a report of what happened.” Being accountable, formally2 or informally, gives us an opportunity to take stock, take responsibility, and take new action. Let’s check-in with the following questions related to accountability:
- What am I celebrating? This question insists that we suspend hash critique and judgement. Answers range from, “My efforts on the Excel spreadsheet were mentioned at the All Hands meeting,” to “My efforts on the Excel spreadsheet weren’t noticed, but it will save hours of work!” We might have to dig deeper on some days, but the exercise forces an acknowledgment of success, regardless of size.
- What am I learning? This question begs us to step even further back and search our experiences for a pattern or recurring lesson. For example, “I’m learning my intensity can be interpreted as desperation, which is off-putting to potential clients,” or “After I completed that difficult project, I realize I am far more capable than I thought!”
- What am I anticipating? This question asks us to look forward again. Here, we look at the goals for which we now have more information and create a better approach. Goals are reviewed and revised without dwelling on disappointment or mistakes. (The reasons for disappointment or mistakes should have been addressed what we are learning, if not, circle back.)
Taking account leads to taking responsibility and then taking new action. Looking back briefly for sincere celebration is refreshing. Learning from mistakes along the way is how we get from experience to wisdom. …And anticipating the future gives us an opportunity to try and try again!
1 Curious about my five questions? Schedule Strategy Session.
2 Introducing Synergy Groups: Mastermind for Entrepreneurs: Exclusive, confidential peer advisory group of REALLY BUSY Christian small business owners and solopreneurs meeting virtually for two-hour business-building power sessions each month. Request more information.
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Celebrating. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.