Busy lives are great things and as one of the fortunate people who’s days are always full, be it through work, social or home life, I count my blessings on a regular basis.
However when considering the actual number of days we receive on this planet as human beings, which amounts to 25,550 of them if the biblical ‘three score years and ten’ (70 years) is applied, (which in reality could be more, or far worse, it could be less!…) then it is very important that we take time to relax in the company of business colleagues, family and friends and reflect upon our achievements to date. I believe it is very important to look to the future and how best we can utilize our lifetimes work and play in order to achieve better things in the days still to come.
I am fortunate that through my work I ‘see inside’ many businesses and organisations on a regular basis and in doing so meet a great many achievers and aspiring people. What I also frequently see are very ‘busy’ people, many of them ‘too busy’ at times and as a result, they do not seem to take the time to reflect on situations, actual experiences or good or bad outcomes before moving onto the next task or set of tasks.
Review and reflection is a hugely important part of our lives and it cannot take place effectively whilst under pressure. Clearly certain decisions do have to be taken under pressure, however when having done so, do we then take the time to review those events for the betterment of future planning?
Within the simplistic cycle of Plan-Do-Review, as busy people we spend most of our lives in the Do, that is an undeniable fact.
* Usually there is a Plan, although sadly sometimes not always a good one due to lack of preparation and suitable inputs, so like eager students failing to read the exam paper before putting ink to paper, we frequently rush headlong into the Do. Please think about the Plan…Have we got the right people in on the early stages? Have we taken account of everything we are likely to encounter, good or bad? Have we spent time discussing everyone’s view and inputs to the project? Have we got the money required? Importantly, have we set the final plan to one side for an hour or so or even a day to enable us to take a fresh look at it before entering the Do?
* Do – this is in reality where we spend most of our time; Doing stuff! Are we now using our time efficiently? Are we frequently reviewing where we are in the process? Is our ‘anchor person’ keeping us to the budget and to the timeline? Make sure there are accurate records of what is being done for future reference enabling us to learn from our experiences! Make notes, keep minutes, drawings, sketches even doodles – if they relate to the Do – keep them.
* The Review. As one top lawyer said to me after a successful outcome to a merger his firm had presided over which also resulted in many hundreds of hours of lucrative fee billing, ‘I don’t really know why we got such great feedback from the client…we’ve not made time to discuss it yet and we are already onto the next piece of business’.….a crying shame really because they could have used those positive experiences, comments and reasons for achieving yet more success in the next planned piece of business! When it comes to Review…Make time!
Review is a critical part of so much in life as it enables us to understand why we were successful in business, why we failed to get the deal, why our holiday did to live up to our expectations and why our latest home project was so successful and that bottle of wine we found on the shelf that had been there so long , why was it so good?…
As was quoted to us when authoring ‘Performance at the Limit – Business Lessons from Formula 1 Motor Racing’, ‘When the race has been won and the champagne drunk, we spend an hour and a half in the garage discussing what went wrong’…This quote is specifically about the need to respect the REVIEW PROCESS and the importance of making it timely in order that the next Plan can carry the benefits of success forwards and avoid any mistakes – it is in truth, about ensuring Continuous Improvement, such an important thing in business.
Making time immediately after ‘the event’ makes sure that we all focus on the why’s, what’s and the reasons for particular successes, failures or outcomes and it is only at the time of download, close to the actual event or happening that we get the facts down as they were and not as ‘how we think we remember them’ hours, days or heaven help us, weeks later.
This brings me therefore to my point about taking time to relax and reflect. Following on from the review, take time to relax and reflect body and mind. This can be done privately or in a group, at work, at home or in social company. The importance of this is that we see things very differently when relaxed. Our body chemistry is different, our tolerance levels more balanced and our understanding of a given situation more realistic.
Whether a work or a personal situation, taking even just a few minutes to relax and reflect can have a very positive impact. There are very few situations in life where a short break to relax and reflect cannot be taken. The effects are almost always beneficial to the person making the decision and just as importantly, those around him or her who are looking for well considered responses to their actions.
Plan-Do-Review and Relax and Reflect – you know it makes sense…