By Michael Gunther

As we enter another new year, I always find this to be a great opportunity to review the past year and reflect on the lessons I learned over the last twelve months. So, to be as cliché as one can be, I’m going to outline my list of lessons learned (you realize writers always do this at the end of the year because our deadlines are moved up for the holiday season and we need to produce a quick article). In the spirit of keeping tradition alive, here it goes…

I learn new lessons every day–some take longer to stick, but I think I have actually made some changes from others.

  • Value your time: We all have only 24 hours in each day and I continue to recognize and appreciate where I’m spending my time and with whom.  This year I took a hard look at the type of clients with whom I truly love working with, and I made a concerted effort to build my ideal client base. I have to say this has been accomplished. I’ve turned down many projects that didn’t fit perfectly with our skills or services, which I may have undertaken in the past. This has allowed me and my team to excel at what we do and build even better client relationships. I also have learned to delegate at a whole new level and truly understand the power of this skill like never before.
  • Stay focused: This has been the year of focus on our main two offerings–consulting and WorkTraits. We have scaled back our trainings, discontinued our coaching services, and turned away other potential projects. My mantra of “Consulting and WorkTraits” has been used numerous times as we started to get sidetracked by other opportunities. The focus has paid off for another solid year of performance and we are set up for 2013 better than ever.
  • The right people at the right time: I have always understood the value of having strong players on your team, but what I learned this year is the timing of having those individuals in place is also just as important. In the past, I brought folks on maybe too early for where we were as an organization. This year I have seen individuals on my team rise to heightened levels of performance, and thus, they and our organization have thrived. Without replacing roles that I thought were critical, I’ve allowed existing team members to step up and shine and it’s generated results beyond what I originally thought possible.
  • Marketing has changed: Social media continues to contribute to our growth and exposure as an organization. We now have numerous people blogging, managing our social media, etc. and the results are working. Our exposure, traffic and more importantly, new leads and clients have grown from these sources. It is not a fad, and if you are not spending more time in 2013 in the social media arenas you will fall further behind.
  • Don’t forget to learn outside your normal circle: I wrote early in the fall about my trip to New York to the World Business Forum. That one event continues to have an impact on me and my team. The key components of knowledge I gained have made me realize once again the importance of outside learning. Spend the time and dollars to invest in you this coming year. As Mark Twain once said: a stagnated mind dies–in life you are either moving forward or backward.
  • Take time for you, your family, and your friends: Life is truly short. This year brought that message home loud and clear as my mom passed away in the spring, friends lost their spouses to cancer, family members struggled with health issues, and most recently, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Make sure you work hard at what you love to do, but make the time to play just as hard with those who you love.

Bottom Line

Take some time to review 2012 as you enter 2013–what have you learned and what do you want to learn this coming year? Thank you for letting me share my thoughts, challenges, insights, and stories every other week both in print and online.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?


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