One of the great things about cycling is it gives me the chance to get a bit of perspective.
Normally, in day to day life, we’re all so busy dealing with the next issue that comes down the conveyor belt, that we don’t get the chance to step back and see the wider picture. Don’t get me wrong, being permanently busy can be a good or a bad thing, it really depends on what you’re working towards. If you’re constantly firefighting, working yourself into the ground on a task that, at the end of the day, isn’t important to you, then being super busy isn’t something to boast about. We only get one turn at life, so filling it with tasks that don’t equate to accomplishing your goals seems pointless. That’s why there’s a constant need to readjust, tweak the navigation and make sure you’re going in the right direction.
Which takes me back to my bike. Often, when I’m out in the countryside, I can literally see for miles. It’s refreshing to stop and take in a panorama, with all its ups and downs. Being able to focus on everything that’s going on around me and the various paths that are available to choose is hugely important. It’s all about perspective. From time to time, we all need to free our minds of the mental clutter that comes with day to day life and think about the big picture. New Year’s Day is, in my view, the perfect time to do this. Each one of us gets to stand on that hill (bike & Lycra are optional) and see the vista of a whole year stretching out ahead of us.
What will those 12 months hold?
There’s no getting away from the truth that many aspects of 2022 won’t be positive. We must accept them as part of the ebb and flow of life. There will, however, be many elements of this brand new year that we can steer in a direction to suit us. This means we’ll need to make some decisions about which way to go, which paths to go down, before we get caught up in the nitty gritty of the journey itself. Whenever I get the chance to stop and reassess, the same words come back to me, time and again. I’m embarrassed to say they’re the lyrics of that incredibly cheesy, earworm track by Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson – ‘The best things in life are free’. For me, this seemingly throwaway lyric carries a lot of good sense.
So, each New Year, as I prepare to throw myself into another 12 months of life, I try to remember what’s truly important in life. It’s not status. It’s not money. It’s not what other people think of you. It’s not beating the competition. All of those things are smoke and mirrors designed to distract from the best things in life: family, friends, good health and a feeling of peace.
In my role, I’m constantly considering the following:
• How do I improve what I do?
• How do I finesse my organisation?
• How do I get the maximum from my workforce?
• How do I give the best possible service?
• How do I expand what we do while maintaining the high standards I have set?
With all this going around in my mind, it’s so useful to stop and remember that everyone in my orbit, as I attempt to achieve my goals for the next year, is another person who, like me, is driven by the desire for happiness.
So, as 2022 begins, I’m setting myself a new goal. Every week, I will look up from the day today hustle and bustle of my work life and ask myself:
• Am I going in the right direction?
• Am I concentrating on the most important things in life, my family, friends and all?
• Are my actions, as a leader, empowering others to foreground the best things in life as their priorities too?
• If not, what can I do to change that?
• What steps can I take to ensure that a work life balance is achieved by everyone who reports to me?
Let’s be honest. Doing this isn’t going to be easy. Far from it. The truth is, I’m going to frequently fail in my quest to maintain my perspective. On occasion, I’m going to prioritise the wrong things. Frequently I’m not going to be able to see the wood for the trees. Every now and then I’m going to head towards a dead end. But that’s OK.
Here’s the secret. January 1st is just another day. It’s easier to start over on New Year’s Day because everyone else is doing it. But, if things aren’t going the way they should, you can get another clean slate on February 7th, July 29th or whatever day suits you!