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Posted by on Sep 12, 2014

New Year, New Routine to Be a Better Leader

NewYearNo matter how many years you’ve been out of school, it is hard to ignore the back-to-school frenzy. For some, it is nostalgic to think about buying brand new school supplies, retracing the long walks you made to class each Fall as the weather turned cool, or how your mind would race after learning something new and fascinating.

For others, this time of year may make you slightly nervous. The carefree days of summer are really over and it is time to get back to routines and business so to speak.

The Government Fiscal Year is coming to an end and the new one is about to start. I would be remiss if I didn’t say this time of year might also remind you of the professional development you’ve been putting off…for months or even years. Don’t be hard on yourself — we’ve all been there — but I want to challenge you to start a new routine this Fall.

Do it now!
For those of you that read Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller The Happiness Project, the “one minute rule” might be familiar. One of the tips she follows to stay organized each day is to immediately tackle anything that takes less than a minute. Throughout your day there are literally dozens of small things you can accomplish in the moment that will save you time and effort if you don’t let them pile up.

For example, take a minute to wash your coffee cup and place it back in the cupboard rather than tossing it in the sink to deal with when you return home exhausted from the day. Take a minute to respond to a colleague’s email while you wait for a meeting to begin rather than flagging it for response later in the day. I’m sure you can instantly think of at least five tasks you do each workday that fall into this category.

One minute each day…
60secondsHere’s the challenge. I think the one minute rule can be applied to leadership development. Many people put off leadership development, or other professional development goals for that matter, because it seems too overwhelming or time consuming. All too often people think you need to engage in a lengthy and all-consuming leadership development experience to jump-start a personal leadership transformation. While those types of programs have tremendous value, it is not the only way to meet your goals. The best leaders find ways to make ongoing learning part of their daily routine.

Nothing is static in government today. In order for leaders to be able to navigate constant change and remain adaptable, you need to stay engaged and train your brain to ponder different ways of tackling leadership challenges. The best way to build that mental stamina is consistently introduce new ideas, tools, and concepts you can test out as situations emerge.

For that reason, one minute a day can make a huge difference. If you take one minute each day to read a blog you have bookmarked, scan a personalized newsfeed, or flip through a magazine (with the swipe of a finger or by turning actual pages), chances are the rest of the day you will process and practice applying whatever tip or nugget of new learning caught your eye during that one minute. That means the one minute you spend each day amounts to far more than 60 seconds of learning, and over time you’ve incorporated a great deal of new knowledge and experience into your repertoire of leadership skills.

What ideas do you have for using the one minute rule when it comes to meeting your leadership development goals?

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