Leadership is both a blessing and curse. While you get to see what’s possible, living in between your present and your future is never easy. You must be patient while at the same time persistent in achieving the outcomes you have committed to deliver. And that can be a tough spot to lead from at times.
I’ve never met a leader who didn’t want to experience breakthrough in at least one area of their life. Some leaders make breakthrough look easy. The truth is it’s not easy, even if it looks that way. However, it’s possible, but you may not presently know how to get there.
The good news is it wouldn’t be considered a breakthrough if your outcomes were predictable. That would be considered business as usual. And in today’s leadership climate, business as usual won’t cut it. To get where you’re going, you’re going to need to position yourself for breakthrough.
Here are 17 ways you can position yourself for breakthrough in 2017:
1. Develop a daily routine. Disciplines ensure we do the right things often enough to benefit from them.
2. Make sure your sleeping patterns are consistent. You won’t have the energy, focus, or resolve to achieve breakthrough if you’re tired all the time.
3. Eliminate unnecessary decisions. Save your best thinking for your biggest problem, not what color shirt to wear or where to go for lunch.
4. Find time for prayer and meditation. Don’t be consumed by constant distractions. Make room in your day to quiet your mind and your soul.
5. Budget time for personal reflection. Buy a journal, open a Word doc, or start a new note in Evernote. Block time on your calendar, close your door, turn off your phone, and make it a habit to reflect on your day.
6. Participate in a community of faith. Be around people who will help you remember that life is not just about you but about serving your Creator and others.
7. Find a mentor. You were never meant to lead in a vacuum alone. Everyone needs a fresh perspective.
8. Be a mentor. You’ll never learn more about yourself than when you help others learn about themselves.
9. Get to know your team beyond the office. Learn the names of their spouses, children, etc. Find out what excites them, bores them, and compels them. Be human.
10. Write down your goals. There is something magical that happens when you shift your ideas onto paper. They become real.
11. Determine what type of leader you need to be to achieve those goals. Every new level of breakthrough will require you to adapt and grow in specific ways.
12. Build a project plan. Take your outcomes and break them down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. Until you do this, your goals are just good ideas.
13. Measure, execute, and adjust your progress. Make sure each goal in your project plan is measurable and actionable. This is how you’ll hold yourself accountable throughout the year.
14. Elevate your thinking. Expose yourself to new ideas. Read a book. Watch a TED Talk. Take a class at a local university or online. Never stop learning.
15. Find your why. It’s easy to lose this along the way. Rediscover this early and remind yourself of it often. It’s where you’ll find your strength and resolve to push through the difficult experiences along the way.
16. Focus on building a culture that fosters breakthrough. Good people and good ideas aren’t enough to push organizations into breakthrough experience. You must also have a culture that fosters that type of thinking and celebrates that type of behavior.
17. Learn how to tell better stories. Great leaders are great storytellers. Stories have a timeless element about them and can often pierce through the filters that our mind has developed over time. Stories can inspire people to think in new ways and even try things they would have initially resisted.
Some of these may seem obvious. It’s rarely the epiphanies—which come inconsistently and unexpectedly—that make all the difference. It's almost always the consistent patterns of behavior that contribute to the conditions for epiphanies to take place and so you know what to do with them.
Your Breakout Year
This could be your breakout year. If you feel stuck, then decide that 2017 is going to be the year you get unstuck. If you feel tired, then decide that 2017 is going to be the year that you find a new source of energy. If you feel fear, then decide that 2017 is going to be the year that you turn that fear into fuel to drive you toward the breakthrough you so desperately need to experience.
A life of significance is not one that is absent of struggle, tension, or disbelief. On the contrary, a life of significance is determined by how you react to those feelings that every leader experiences. What makes life significant is not the avoidance of struggle but your desire to lean into it and use it to create something meaningful in the midst of it.
This is your year. I believe in you!
REFLECTION: What new habits and disciplines will you need to adopt to make 2017 a breakout year for you? Specifically, how will you activate those new habits and disciplines in your life? In what ways will you need to grow as a leader to achieve the breakthrough you desire for yourself and the people you lead?