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Leadership: Lessons Learned in 2017

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Leadership: Lessons Learned in 2017

This has been a wild year, and I mean truly wild by the many definitions:

  1. Occurring, growing, or living in nature
  2. Not inhabited or farmed
  3. Lacking regular order or arrangement; disarrangement
  4. Disorderly; unruly
  5. Extravagant; fantastic
  6. Risky; imprudent
  7. Based on little or no evidence or probability; unfounded
  8. Impatiently eager
  9. Informal Highly enthusiastic


These are some definitions of “Wild” and they all apply to the events of this past year. What was at the origin of them were the starting of a new business, and the publishing and release of my first book.  I must say though, the “wildness” was not just limited to that.  

In going through this past year, it provided me with a number of insights, lessons learned, and gifts that I wanted to share with you.  I am also curious if any of these lessons have impacted you in either similar or different ways.  No matter what, 2017, was an outstanding year.  SO here goes, lessons learned from a wild year:

The Importance of VISION

I have often said the marketplace and the world is a highly complex, ambiguous, and uncertain environment, and 2017, only intensified in those areas.  If you go into an environment that is uncertain, and you increase the level of engagement, guess what, the uncertainty does not diminish.  To think that is nearly the same as thinking if you were going SCUBA diving and you dive deeper there is less water.  

With out a clear vision I could not imagine the confusion and frustration that would exist as one engages in a new endeavor.  One would be left with constant reaction to all the stimulus that shows up every day.  Without a clear sense of vision all I would be left with is reacting to the circumstances around me, the only way any forward movement would be made would be sheer randomness.  I am not so sure that is a pathway to success.  

Without a clear vision and commitment, the indifference of the marketplace would have me bail out on an idea, a dream, and one I believe will benefit many.  

Another benefit of vision is it is the gateway to moving beyond where you are comfortable, getting out of my head, and my own limiting beliefs.  

These are just some of the gifts I have received this year through living and acting into my vision.

Embracing Breakdowns

Any endeavor worthy of you will encounter breakdowns.  Stuff is not going to go as planned.  No matter how well you plan, how much you want it to, things and plans will breakdown.  You can get all crazy about it, or you can use the breakdown as an opportunity to learn and adjust.

My new mantra this year became, “nothing is handled,” and if you think about it, almost nothing is.  

How can anything be handled in environments of uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity?  The idea of things being handled is mythology, intended to make us feel comfortable.  The gift of embracing breakdowns is the gift of getting “comfortable” with the uncomfortable.  It is also the gift of embracing the messy and giving up the commitment to things looking a certain way.

And in doing so, there is the opportunity to really look and dig deep as to the source of the breakdown.  In one case this year, it really had me take a look at something I was blind to, and stand for something that was very important to me.  The result was near miraculous.

Relationships are the Only Way Things Move Forward

We cannot do this thing alone.  What do I mean by “this thing,” you ask?  Life, business, any thing that requires us to move beyond our self.  We are not solitaire beings.  We work best in teams, community, tribes, groups, organizations.  Yet they can be tough to operate in.  

I work with an amazing team of people, and sometimes it gets messy.  The trust, the connection, and the alignment to the fulfillment of the vision provide the structure to get through nearly every breakdown.  Including when someone leaves. Maintaining the relationship, the respect, and honor for the people that leave is as important as anything.  Relationship is more than just the engagement with one another, it becomes an element of the environment.  

Not At Any Cost

We live in a world that really values winning.  It can get weird sometimes and lead to “winning” at any cost.  Is that winning?  If I spend 2 million dollars to win 1 million on the Lotto, did I win?  You think, “No one would do that, that is stupid.”  You may want to think again.  Professor Thaler just won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on why people make dumb decisions. Most decisions are made not on logic or commitment, or on a future we are out to create, most are made on fear and ego.  

The lesson I learned this year, and am still learning, is why am I doing what I am doing and how will it help me to fulfill my intention.  And, of course, being clear on my intention (see the part about vision again).

Life is Precious and It is Urgent

I think we all get how precious life is, what is missing for most is the urgent part.  I’m not speaking of living like there is an alarm going off everyday.  On the contrary, it is just getting that we don’t know when this ride ends.  And yet we act like we have tons of time. We waste so much time kicking the can down the road analyzing and “thinking it over.”  I was never sure what that meant, “thinking it over.”  Is there an expectation of some blast of enlightenment? I have taken on the practice of saying yes to things that seem aligned with my vision.  In doing so it has created a structure to build alignment, ask questions, and expand my perspective.  

Also, inside this learning of the preciousness and urgency of life, there is also access for near boundless gratitude and access to joy and happiness.  This perspective is great because we tend to get what we expect.  

Thanks for taking time to check this out.  I wish you all a very happy new year and a powerful, thriving, and successful 2018.  Happy New Year.  

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