2016 was a middling year in the all time rankings so it has taught me a lot. There were some amazing highlights like my Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award, two WOLweeks, meeting my Change Agent Colleagues in the US and speaking on Collaboration and Working Out Loud around the world. I was lucky enough to do some amazing challenging client work in learning, innovation and collaboration. With all of this, new relationships were built and existing relationships were strengthened. However the year had its shares of disappointments, frustrations and delays.
Here are the lessons I learned (or was taught again) in 2016:
Hustle: Everything worth having takes effort. Hustle is the price and we never stop paying.
Relationships Are Everything: the best work and learning we do together. You find great work through your networks. Work out loud to find and deepen relationships. When things get good, invest in others. When things get tough, call on your friends and connections.
Shiny New Things: Shiny New Things are great when they are at the edges. Don’t get distracted by them. Don’t get over enthusiastic about them. Don’t make them the core of what you do until tested. Beware the person dangling a Shiny New Thing before you. It’s likely they don’t understand the dangers, no matter how well they sell it.
There’s Always More Context: You can always learn more. Dig deeper. The better you understand the context. Surprises, disappointments and confusion are reminders to get more context. Some times you discover things are better than you think with more context. Other times more context will save you. Make sure you share enough context to help others to succeed.
Think Product: Products are easy to buy. Products are designed for ease of use. Products have a clear customer and a clear benefit. Products can be tailored. At as attractive as complete flexibility is, people want to know what they are getting and that it works. Products offer that promise. The other advantage of products is that they offer focus to the relationships and the hustle.
Everything is a Test: We learn by doing. Do more. The best failure rate for learning is far higher than my comfort level.
Give: Everything I have received this year is a legacy of some gift given directly or indirectly. Generosity works. Resist the temptation to make everything a commercial exchange. Don’t worry about the few greedy or unscrupulous people you meet on the path. When you dig deeper into their context, you wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
Have Fun: I shouldn’t need this reminder. Whether working or not, there is more fun to be had.
Focus on Purpose: You get one go. You need focus. Purpose is the reason for your work. Make it a relentless focus.
Thanks 2016. I’m looking forward to applying all this in 2017. I’ve already made some changes but I’m sure there’s more to learn. There’s definitely a lot more to be done to make work more human.