“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.” —Oprah Winfrey
In business, we are always in the pursuit of improvement: having more, being better, going faster, doing things cheaper, and so on. As a result, when you take the time sit back and look at business life you can see an underlying theme: the constant pressure that everyone—not just leaders but employees, companies, markets, and entire industries—feels not only to succeed but to surpass previous achievements.
This dogged pursuit of “more, better, faster, cheaper” is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary. It’s the very definition of competition and is what drives innovation and growth.
However, the drive towards continuous organization improvement can be a double-edged sword. It can be invigorating and inspiring, or it can lead to people feeling overwhelmed, behind, depressed, and even burned-out. Proactively choosing the former is a hallmark of good organization leadership.
Applying Success Mindset to Organization Improvement
The holidays are the one time of year when we all tend to collectively take a step back, spend time with family, and allow ourselves a bit of a breather. We can take a step away from the office knowing the world will probably not come crashing in. This is a perfect time to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments in a way that is supportive both to us as individuals and to our organizations.
This holiday season, it would be easy to look back at 2018 and think, “We may be a little further along than we were last year, but look at how much more we still need to do.” However, this approach does little to support a success mindset. Let me suggest instead saving that thought until after the first of the year, and taking a different approach over the holidays.
Sometime during this holiday break, consider doing these simple exercises to help maintain the drive to succeed as a positive force in your life and in your work:
- As an individual, give yourself one day to just sit back and review all the good things you, as a person and on behalf of your company, have accomplished this year. However big or small, allow yourself to be satisfied with all of them. Resist the temptation to immediately think of all the other things you need to think about tomorrow, next week, or next year. You will have plenty of time later to plan for organization improvement. For now, just let yourself relish the fact that you made progress and good things happened. You may want to actually write all these things down on paper; there is something immensely satisfying about seeing your successes laid out in black and white.
- If you are in a leadership position, in addition to reflecting on your own progress, ask yourself: “What did the people closest to me give up, contribute, and/or sacrifice to help advance my goals and/or the goals of the organization? As a leader, what should I be thankful for?” If you haven’t already, you might consider how you can thank them for their hard work and dedication.
The holiday season comes just once a year. Why not use this momentary pause as an opportunity to step back and give yourself 24 hours to reflect on, appreciate, and be grateful for all that was accomplished, despite all the pressure you may feel to do better? You may just find that doing this creates a motivational springboard that will support and empower your organization improvement efforts in the upcoming year.