Learn our Lessons – or Pay the Price!

It’s embarrassing to consider how often we repeat the same mistakes, over and over again, and then are surprised when the same thing happens yet again.

How often we have read or heard these words of wisdom from Albert Einstein and said, ‘How true!’

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.

I’ve always been proud of my ability to get things done, stay on top of things and keep my promises.  But last week I forgot about 3 appointments – just dropped them out completely.  It wasn’t until afterwards, when I finally remembered what I’d done that I had to contact each of them, apologize. and try to reschedule.  A new low. Ouch!

So what’s my lesson?  Keep my promises?  Yes, I do well with that one, but that’s not quite it.  When I thought about it I realized that I’d just made TOO MANY PROMISES!!  As hard as it is for me to admit, I just can’t do everything that people want me to do.  I have to let myself say No more often if I’m going to survive at this crazy busy time of my life.

The 2nd Principle of Personal Transformation is Learn Your Lessons:

  1. Appreciate your Success
  2. Learn your Lessons
  3. Shift Limiting Beliefs
  4. Live your Values
  5. Set your Top 10 Goals and Track Them

To help you find the key lessons that you need to learn to make 2010 a great year, here’s the process we’ve been using for years with our clients.

Below is the model of the Cycle of Productivity, four phases of a work cycle that take you from your 1st thought about a result you want to achieve through to the 4th phase in which you review what happened, appreciate your success, and then discover the potential LESSONS that can be learned from the process of producing the result.  We first showed you this cycle in Transforming your Performance blog about a month ago.

By far the most important lesson of the Cycle of Productivity comes in this final phase – the 4th part of the cycle.  It can be too easy to go straight from the finish line to the starting line without taking a pause for acknowledgment, feedback, pats on the back or thinking about what actually happened and learning from it.  Our eye is always on what’s next or what isn’t completed yet and before long we feel as if we’re running on fumes —- below the empty mark!  We forget to stop for fuel!

project cycle

To discover the most vital 3 LESSONS for you right now, start by reviewing the past year to discover the lessons that will make the most difference to you. To do so is a simple 3 Step process.  Start by making 2 vertical columns on a piece of paper or computer document.

  1. In the left-hand column list your accomplishments and results of the past year.
  2. Below that list, write your disappointments and failures for 2009.
  3. In the right hand column, choose your top 2 or 3 responses and for each make note of a lesson or piece of advice you’d give yourself to repeat that success.

Example responses for the right hand column:

  • Trust my intuition
  • Stick to my plan

Then choose your top failures and for each make note of a lesson or piece of advice you’d give yourself to avoid that disappointment.

Examples responses:

  • Keep my word
  • Be persistent

Once you’ve finished these steps, choose the best 3 on the list – the ones that could really guide you to your best year yet.  Write these on a card, a Post-it or in whatever way you can see them frequently.  Read through them and imagine yourself behaving this way – see the difference it would make?

lightbulb moment - great ideaHere’s another thought for you – imagine a business team doing through this 3-step exercise.  What difference would it make to their results in 2010 if they discovered and did their best to follow such guidelines as the following:

  • Speak honestly and openly
  • Increase our Say/Do ratio
  • Focus on results

Reviewing the results of the past year to discover the lessons that will make the most difference in 2010 will take you less than an hour – well worth it!  Invest in yourself or your team to take this first step.