My year of experiments
And here we are, it's December and we're looking at the end of one year and the start of a new one. Last year I designed a tool to help with that end of year reflection. One of the things I love about the end of year is sharing some of the highlights of the year with you. First up it's the books that have impacted on me in one way or another over the year.
I've shared before my feelings about reading and how, for me, it's like breathing. For the last few years I have joined in with the Goodreads challenge and set a goal for the number of books to read. Last year I had to accept that I didn't quite reach that goal. This year I'm no where near. I've read hardly anything in comparison to normal. An excellent opportunity to reflect on why that is. I was talking about it with a friend and described myself - and in fact my year in general - as a year of failures. I didn't mean this in any negative, feeling awful kind of way. More that I've tried lots of new things and quite a few didn't work out and I've learnt a lot along the way.
While talking with this wise woman, I began to reframe my view and saw my last year as the year of experiments. When I look at the books I've read, this couldn't be more true. I've taken and done something from most of the books I've read. It may have been that I tried a different way to do something. Tried something new. This has taken time and energy. So reading less is OK. I've been experimenting.
My top three books from 2018 (and my experiments)
Insight: Why we're not as self aware as we think, and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life.
Tasha Eurich takes you through how we see ourselves, how others see us and being open and brave with receiving feedback will build your self awareness, stretch you and take you to new places. I was writing and talking about feedback a lot during this last year. I thought some of the ideas were brave and indeed a stretch for me. She has created tools and workbooks to sit alongside the book and there is also a quiz to check in with your own awareness. I took one of the ideas to use with my team on getting feedback on me and my leadership. I checked in with a wise person to make sure I wasn't picking up random ideas and she reassured me that it was a reasonable idea and how she had used similar processes. The experience was fascinating on many levels for me and my team. I did worry that I had broken them at one point! I was grateful for the information and changed a couple of things I had been doing straight away. I was much more conscious of how actions I take that I think nothing of can have an impact on those I work with - particularly when I'm the boss. Very powerful.
Check out the TED talk
Radical Candor: Be a kickass boss without loosing your humanity
More of the feedback theme. I know I can run scared of giving people feedback at times, so this book gave me a framework and a kick in the right direction. I loved the directness of the message from Kim Scott. The examples are real and easy to relate to. This books takes managing a team to a really practical level, building on how you structure meetings, one to ones and make decisions as a team or organisation. It also looks at how you can develop all members of your team so they feel like they are making a difference and are valuable members. I connected with the style so also took this course to re-enforce the message for me. I've changed my approach to my one on ones and made it clear that these are up there as the most important meetings for my week. This is an experiment in progress though as I'm still incorporating the ideas about meetings, I have to remember that I'm an early adopter in many ways and that those I work with aren't all the same.
Check out the Radical Candor Podcast
This is going to hurt: secret diaries of a junior doctor
The other experiment I've been working on is doing less. So sitting on the beach and reading this, laughing so much I cried. The laughing that makes it impossible to talk kind of laughing. Taking time out, doing what I love, what re-charges me, resting, all that stuff has made a big difference for me. I've been slightly more selfish, thought about me a bit and looked after myself. I've got to the end of year and am super excited about next year because of it.