Stop and smell the roses

Take the time to enjoy the process of reaching your goals

Stop and smell the roses

In the earlier article, I discussed the importance of not just achieving goals, but enjoying the process of achieving them too.

I shared how leaders could achieve this objective by setting mini goals, making time to celebrate, and measuring to reinforce and give feedback.

Here’s more of what you can do to enjoy the process:

Make it a habit

When someone asks me what a habit is, I say “when I am able to do it in my sleep”. What I am really saying is when it becomes something I don’t have to think about and something I can do on “auto pilot”.

To get people to cultivate habits, we need to help them through the learning curve. This is how habits are built — by doing a little more each day.

Find ways for your team to “practise perfectly” each time and find excuses to reinforce this regularly.

Your team is not the only one that needs to build habits; managers also need to build the habit of giving positive reinforcement. Managers tend not to give enough because they are too caught up with end results.

Reinforce the right things

Even when managers do nothing, they are still doing something and have an impact on the team. For instance, if I ignore bad behaviour, I actually encourage it.

Sometimes, you may be too busy to “fight every battle” and you close one eye and allow things to slip. When you do this, you send mixed signals. It is important to be clear about what you want in terms of behaviour and how you are going to reinforce that behaviour.

When people do good things and it goes unnoticed, they will stop doing it after a while as they are not getting any feedback or reinforcement to continue that behaviour.

Make it meaningful

The problem with some of the recognition you provide for performance has to do with adopting a “one-size-fits-all approach”, which often does not take into account what the performer wants.

A leadership coach once started a meeting with senior leaders by asking them how many members of staff they had reporting to them.

He then wanted to know if they knew the names of their spouses of these team members, followed by the names of their children, their ages and even their birthdates. Then he asked for the names of their pets.

When you think about it, these are the reasons why most people go to work — for their family and loved ones.

Yet, many leaders can’t remember even the most basic information about their team members.

This exercise taught me to become more aware of the people I work with and to take more interest in my team members. It is easier to do something meaningful for the performer if you make time to get to know him better.

Look at what works

When things go wrong, the people who report to you look to you for guidance and support. When you lose your cool, you scare those around you.

Sometimes, it is useful to take a breather and step back. I usually leave the office and take a walk. It clears my mind and helps me look at things with a fresh eye.

I learnt recently to ask myself “how does it get any better than this?” in good situations and bad ones. It works — usually it makes me smile and gives me strength.

Have a positive outlook

This is about stopping to see how far you have come and also taking time to enjoy the journey.

As a leader, if you have a positive outlook and genuinely enjoy the process of reaching your goals, you make it a lot more enjoyable for outsiders and for the people who work with you.

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