Ricochet News

Making 2017 excellent

By The Office Coach - Dec 15, 2016
Making 2017 excellent

While I was living in London, I worked for a global financial services firm called Goldman Sachs. It taught me, early on in my career, what excellence looks like. As we reach the end of 2016 and start to shift our focus to the New Year, I would like to share some of the lessons I learnt at Goldman Sachs so that next year may be the best year possible for you, so that you may have an excellent 2017.

Make continuous improvement and development a part of your life. Goldman Sachs taught me about “an assumption of excellence”; if things went wrong, we did not point fingers, assign blame, or make people feel small. We started with this premise “I know you are excellent. Something went wrong and now we are going to focus forward. What factors impacted this situation, what can we learn from this and do so that this mistake does not happen again, so that we can perform better in future”.

This forward-focus on improvement is an uncomfortable prospect because it means that you will never be complacent, never be lazy. It means that the limits of your comfort zone will constantly be challenged and you will almost certainly experience why Albert Einstein said “the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know.”

When you become jaded by the effort that this mindset requires, then reflect on how far you have come, on what you have achieved by being open to continuous improvement and development in your life. You’ll surprise yourself and find renewed energy.

Know your strengths and play to them.Whether you look at this at an individual or group level, the point is the same. You can spend time trying to improve areas where your performance is lacking or you can play to your strengths and engage supporters whose skills mitigate your weaknesses.

Having learnt this at Goldman Sachs, I still apply it 16 years later with continued success. For example, I know that I write well (strength) and that sales activities make me cringe (weakness). I am comfortable with this reality and have therefore engaged a fabulous Public Relations expert to get my words out to the media.

She does what she does best and I can do the same. In today’s world, there are freelancers from around the world that you can call on to handle specific aspects of your business and it does not have to cost the earth. Be clear about the return you are getting for your investment in that freelancer; if the numbers stack up, you will feel comfortable delegating to him. You can engage support within your company too.

Be mindful of the contributions that individuals make when they are doing their best work, notice the skills that they bring to the proverbial table. As much as you seek to apply your strengths in 2017, do not be afraid to admit your weaknesses and to engage the help of others.

Embrace diversity. A strong memory of life at Goldman Sachs is the elevator trips; where 20 people speaking 8 different languages would travel upwards. The melting pot of cultures, nationalities and other diversity elements provided a narrative from which to source the best the world had to offer. Yes, there was often conflict but it was dealt with constructively, with mutual respect and a focus on shared goals.

As you move towards 2017, gently challenge your prejudices by asking questions, by seeking to understand the perspectives and motives of others that you have previously distanced yourself from. They may give you valuable insights that can unleash excellence in your world.

Henry Ford said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” If you want to make 2017 a truly excellent year, then you need to do more of what helps you improve, more of what allows you to present your best self to the world, more of what allows you access the best in others.