Record to Remember, Pause to Reflect

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb

“We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

My New Years Resolutions For 2012Pause to reflect

  1. Record to Remember
    • Return to writing Morning Pages.
    • Keep my Done list up to date.
  2. Pause to Reflect
    • Quarterly Crows Nest meetings with our partners and advisors
    • Take a break from work every hour or two.

Return to writing “Morning Pages.”

Based on a technique outlined in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way at Work” I mentioned in “Maintaining Perspective on the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster

One technique you can use to maintain perspective is the “Morning Pages” approach concept from “The Artist’s Way at Work” Write three pages in longhand first thing in the morning every day. It can be stream of consciousness, a journal, a story, or even “I don’t know what to write” over and over. There are a number of good techniques in the book, but this is the best one to start with. If, like me, your handwriting skills have deteriorated to the point that writing out more than a 3×5 card is both painful and illegible you can use a typewriter or a computer, but do it in a way that it stands out from your regular work location. Write in a coffee shop or at the breakfast table or a place you can associate with this activity distinct from work. You can also do it in the afternoon or late in the day if that’s a “dead spot” but you have to do it in a way that it represents a clear break from work.

Keep my Done list up to date.

I believe it’s as important as a To Do list for maintaining your gumption.  Ford Harding describes it as an Accomplishments list in “To Do Lists vs. Accomplishment Lists

I recommended he create an accomplishments list.  This starts as a sheet of paper with the word, Accomplishments, at the top and the date and nothing else. Lars is to add business development activities to the list as he completes them.  He has agreed to add no fewer than one accomplishment each day.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing everything that’s still to be done and focus on what’s not been accomplished and how far you are from your major goals. I see merit in taking time once a day to feel good about what’s been accomplished. Many times a set of activities are like drip irrigation, small accomplishments accumulates every day and over the course of a quarter or a year put you in a fundamentally different place.  If you can’t enjoy the journey and celebrate small victories along the way, why are you on it?

Quarterly “Crows Nest” meetings

Do quarterly “Crows Nest” meetings with our partners and advisors as a vehicle for focused review and reflection. We have been doing this once a year for the last five years or so but opened up the format in 2011 for a longer meeting in a conference room instead of a long lunch at Chef Chu’s.  It’s as much a sense-making and agenda setting exercise as an effort to foster more effective coordination and collaboration around emerging opportunities. The working consensus was that the objective was good but it would be more effective as a shorter meeting on a quarterly basis. The real value is in the preparation and follow up for the conversation, which acts a crucible for identifying opportunities and refining plans to prosecute them.

Pause to Reflect: Take a Break Every Hour or Two.

Stand up and take a short walk.  Get up and move for a few minutes. Get my mind off myself and my work. Call, E-Mail, write, or visit a friend. Sit in a different chair and read for pleasure. Shift gears so that I can restart with a fresh perspective.  This was inspired both for health reasons and Tony Schwartz’s “Energy Project” findings (see for example “How to Accomplish More by Doing Less“).

“When in doubt, choose to go deeper rather than faster. Accept the idea that reflection and understanding your own nature, including the dark side, is the key to effective action.”
Peter Block in “The Answer to How is Yes

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