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“Put your future in good hands — your own.” –Mark Victor Hansen
Monday Night Football doesn’t end with the final score. The game just isn’t complete without the witty, insightful, and most of all critical, post-game analysis of ESPN’s Mike and Mike. They review the pre-game strategies, decisions made on the field and resulting plays and scoring. It’s our sneak peek into how players and coaches themselves will analyze the various elements and outcomes by focusing attention on the details. Post-game, players and teams then revise strategy to avoid repeating costly mistakes, continue working on the winning plays and practice drills to ensure greater success next game.
Successful business professionals also share this process of self-critiquing their abilities, committing to needed changes, evaluating consequences and planning future efforts in line with achieving their goals. It’s a constant work in progress. But this continual self-examination is critical to staying on top of one’s game and achieving maximum business performance. So start assessing your own daily game for even greater business and career impact. Learn how to be your own Monday morning quarterback by asking yourself some critical questions at the end of a busy work day:
Take stock of the day’s accomplishments and what you did skillfully. There’s always a tendency to focus on the piles of unfinished business left on the desk at 5 P.M. Instead, reflect on what you’ve completed. What steps did it take to get there? Congratulate yourself on your results and make a commitment to continue in this manner going forward. Recognize and acknowledge your strengths and opportunities so you can profit from both. Appreciating your talents and what is going well helps keep a positive outlook — keeping you motivated for making changes in other areas of development.
Be honest in your assessment of what you could be doing to better manage your schedule and tasks. What got you off track? How will you execute differently tomorrow? Think of the specific actions you’ll need to take tomorrow to get you to completion. Try keeping an hour by hour time log to see how you are spending your day and identify time wasters. Set limits on meetings, emails and other potential distractions to make sure the way you are spending your time is in line with what you need to get done.
Reframe them as learning experiences and identify a positive take-away. Be patient with yourself and aim your sight on the destination — not the bump in the road. Or, are you doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? Albert Einstein observed this behavior as “the definition of insanity”. Think about this quotation for a moment. Is this quote applicable to you? If so, make a commitment to excellence and the changes needed to propel you forward.
Focus on the projects and list the to-dos that are both important and urgent. Keep an eye on those important, but not yet urgent, as they will soon enough be on this A-list. And finally, don’t waste time on tasks that are neither relevant nor time sensitive. Goals need to be measurable, achievable and results orientated. Make sure yours are meaningful, realistic and motivating. Visualize what you are going to achieve tomorrow. Write your goals down and post in several spots where you can be reminded of them throughout your day — in the bathroom, on the car dashboard, on your computer. Being ever reminded of your primary intentions for the day will close the gap between your current and the required outcomes.
If you could wave a magic wand and morph yourself into a model for your job what would you look like? How would you physically look and act? Hour by hour, what are the things you’d be doing? Write down your description of the ultimate workday and yourself as a top performer. What skills or tools are needed to create this image? Research best practices and learn from the top performers. Who is executing in a way to which you aspire? What are they doing right? What qualities can you emulate and what tools can you, too, obtain? Consider getting a mentor or coach who has the experience and qualities you desire and engage them for quick, end of day discussions a few times a week. Research has verified that mentoring and coaching can have positive impacts on job performance.
In addition, there are many skills inventories available or ask your manager to help you identify areas of development if you are unsure. Put a plan together for improvement that might include in-person classes, webinars, self-study and books. Much is offered through colleges or professional or industry organizations and their websites. The most successful professionals are committed to lifelong learning — adding knowledge and skills to ensure top performance and career advancement. So make sure you are integrating time for development into your schedule.
Get yourself “out of the way” by practicing habits in line with your values and purpose. Decide on daily personal (i.e. get up earlier) or business habits (i.e. create tomorrow’s to-do list before leaving office) that you want to introduce or keep and make a list of 10. Create a spreadsheet or table and check off whether you are accomplishing the habit each day. Celebrate your successes. And remember, it takes 3- 6 months of continual practice to make a habit stick. Don’t try and develop new habits because you “should”. If yours aren’t changing, reevaluate your commitment and replace or adjust the habit on your list.
Make your own reality every day with positive self-talk about what you are capable of achieving. Positive self talk leads to positive thinking which is key to being more successful. Put another way, high-productivity people tend to expect winning outcomes in what they do. A positive attitude makes people happy and more productive, gets them promoted faster and earning higher incomes than those less confident. These people set higher goals that they work on for longer periods of time, and are therefore more likely to attain. But it’s beyond the repeating of a mantra. A prevailing mindset of expecting the best needs to permeate every aspect of your day. To maintain an optimistic outlook engage in physical activity, read inspirational passages or quotes, surround yourself with winners and be grateful for what you have already accomplished. When you are frustrated, smile. Recent studies suggest that smiling does indeed have a positive, albeit short-term, effect on emotions. So the simple act of smiling can alleviate some stress and get you over a hump in making progress.
Doing your personal best and reaching your fullest business potential is likely if you choose to take action. So consider expanding the opportunity for tomorrow’s success with this daily, post-game analysis. Learn to be your own cheerleader as well as your toughest critic. Playing back the day’s game tape in your mind, congratulating, critiquing and making changes will bring lasting solutions to your business performance obstacles. With this end of day self-review you are certain to execute skillful plays that will result in a winning season!
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