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Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Morning Check In: What's in Your Season?

Written by Paula E. Bird ©2012
Happy New Year, everyone! This is one of my favorite seasons in a year. This is the season when I plan my next twelve months, and the clean slate that lies before me is fraught with possibilities. For many people, the act of making (and breaking) New Year's resolutions has become so commonplace that the thought of goal setting seems almost trite. This is not so for me.

I love to set goals. I love to make plans that break down my goals into manageable steps. I love to measure my progress from day one until the final goal achievement. I love the whole idea of goal setting. As of this moment, I have worked out my top ten goals and annual plan with the Best Year Yet program, as I enjoy doing each year. This year I will be working with the program online. Already I have noticed a change in my perspective about my current life situation, and I know it is due to the act of setting goals and gaining the sense of control over my life that the goal-setting process provides.

But enough about me. How about you? Where do you stand on the issue of goal setting and resolutions for the coming year?

One of my university colleagues has an interesting twist to his goal setting, and I thought you would enjoy considering his perspective. My colleague, Dr. Ian Davidson, is one of the top music professionals in his instrument area (oboe and English Horn), and we work together several times each year in recital and symphonic performances. He has a pie chart hanging on the wall of his studio with the caption: "What's in Your Season?" The pie chart is divided into three equal parts. The three parts are labeled: Lead, Share, Follow. My friend's philosophy is that when planning out the year, the season should include equal elements of all three areas.

Lead refers to those activities where you are the leader. You might be giving a solo performance or conducting a group. The purpose of this portion of the pie chart is that you are in charge of others. You are responsible for making decisions about the direction to take and how the project should run. You are the person in charge.

Share refers to those activities where you share the responsibility of leadership. You might be performing in chamber music performances. The purpose of this portion of the pie chart is that you will join others in making the project come to life. You will focus on collaboration. All members are in charge of decision-making.

Follow refers to those activities where someone else assumes the leadership role, and you are cast in the follower role. You might be performing as a member of an organization, such as a symphony or community orchestra. You are a member of a team, but someone else is at the helm of ship, and your responsibility is to follow direction.

Do you see the value of thinking of thinking about your life in each of these three areas? Each area requires a different set of skills.

Leading requires you to step up and show others how something is to be done. Leading teaches you to learn the power of responsibility, as you will need to consider the people you will lead and their needs in order to build a successful outcome. Leading provides you with an opportunity to build your self confidence, as once you have successfully completed your leadership role, you will have another memory of having achieved something. This memory will serve as a springboard for achieving other worthy projects in the future, and the memory will provide you with a wellspring of courage to do things that might seem scary.

Sharing requires you to work and play well with others. Sharing teaches you about the ebb and flow of collaboration, about how a sailboat navigates with the currents and the wind. Sharing reminds us to be considerate of others if we are to work together toward a common goal in a pleasant and satisfying way. Sharing will provide you with an opportunity to learn much about yourself, as sharing will reveal those areas of your character and personality that are weak and need work. You cannot be successful in a collaboration if you harbor selfish motives, exhibit arrogant attitudes, or rely on dominant behavior to get your own way. Sharing requires you to put your focus on the common good of the group. Sharing will teach you how to be a better person if you approach this part of the pie chart with a teachable mind.

Following requires you to learn submission. Following teaches us how to let others lead. Following will also teach us much about ourselves and our personalities. In the process of learning how to follow someone else, we will learn the art of showing others respect, courtesy, and graciousness. We learn to put our own personal desires to the side momentarily to allow someone else to direct us.

Some of us will find difficult prospects in each of the three areas. The beauty to using my friend's system is that it will help us to find balance. We need to learn how to work well within each of these three areas. We need to learn how to use the skills that each of these three areas will teach us.

Some of us will find leading to be a scary proposition. Eleanor Roosevelt said: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Leading will teach you how to face your fears. Fear will only enlarge if we try to ignore it. Facing fear squarely will shrink it. We need to step up and assume leadership positions in order to learn how to rely on ourselves. We need to learn how to lead others in order to learn how to lead ourselves.

Some of us will find sharing to be difficult because we are impatient about the speed that collaboration may require. The author Brian Adams said: "Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success." Sharing will teach us how to be patient with others as well as ourselves.

Some of us will find following to be difficult because we naturally lead rather than follow. We are comfortable with our own opinions and decisions. We find it easier to be in charge and to charge ahead on our own course. The author William Paul Young wrote: “Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect." Following will help us to learn how to give respect to others as well as build relationships for ourselves.

As you contemplate the new year, pause momentarily to consider what is in your season. Do you have a good blend of all three areas -- leading, sharing, and following?

Happy New Year! See you in 2013!

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