Self-reflection is a difficult skill. If you’re struggling with an honest reflection of your (work) life, start here: fire yourself. Seriously, act as if you just fired yourself from your role. Now what do you do?
In 2016 I listened to a podcast episode titled Fire Yourself. It changed my perspective. The key difference was I could stop clinging onto projects, dreams, goals, or past accomplishments and open my mind to new ways of viewing the world. Effectively, a restart.
You will ask yourself many of the same questions you would have asked but from a very different vantage point.
Think about it this way: pretend you fired yourself. It’s done. It’s over. Now, that job role is open and the new you applies to be re-hired into the role of your old self. What would you do? You cannot coast along on your past accomplishments — those were performed by someone else (the old you). How would you pitch yourself for the role?
In going through this process this year, I made a number of changes to my 2023 strategy. Truth be told, this process took me over a month to build my pitch and strategy to be re-hired. Here are a few 2023 strategic changes:
- Rethink a team’s alignment to our revenue growth. It may be commonsensical that teams should generally grow bigger with a company’s revenue growth, but the old me was so stuck in a mindset that it took “fresh eyes” to see not just that this should happen, but how the ratios and metrics should be constructed. I wish I saw this six months sooner.
- Be okay with letting go of initiatives with your name on it. There were two initiatives I oversaw and if someone had asked me three months ago, “we’re moving/changing XYZ” I would have had a very hard time with that. With detaching myself emotionally, I am now open to that happening and why (epilogue: no structural changes will happen, but it opened my eyes to several really great opportunities for my team to take on more autonomy, make better and faster decisions, and a better vision setting approach). What can you let free? How will it make you a better leader?
- Provide feedback to leadership. Remember when you wrote a performance review and suddenly you had clarity on the performance? That’s analogous to what happened here. By firing myself and re-entering that role, I saw how certain leaders could improve: whether they’ve been more reactive, they need to be more collaborative and less combative, they need to slow down and listen more, or they need to ask different, better questions. We’re often too afraid to give feedback to others — I’m speaking of those who “rank” higher than you — but it’s so valuable to you and especially them.
- Show appreciation to my team. 2022 was a year of “hair on fire” at many times and I allowed myself to be pulled into the fray. I lost perspective. Truthfully, I work with a terrific team of people who are kind, caring, brilliant, hard working, creative, and collaborative. They need to hear that I care and that their work matters and is highly esteemed. They need to hear how amazing they are and to know I think highly of them!
- Quitting projects. There were several projects that I doggedly pursued. I should have listened to the team and agreed to pause or eliminate them months ago. Instead, I wasted much mental energy and the team’s time on trying to make it work. Know when to be stubborn, and when to let go.
- Work life considerations. We’ve praised “work life balance” for years as a utopia. Sometimes it truly is a balance, and sometimes trying to maintain balance leads to imbalance. I must return to taking needed holidays and vacations (even staycations), and return to doable hours. Bonus: holding yourself accountable to a set amount of hours greatly improves your own view of your worth, and forces you to focus on the critical few because “I now don’t have enough time for those things that don’t matter”.
Those are my learnings. Fire yourself. Learn from it. What are your takeaways? What
would will you do differently upon being re-hired?