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How to Reflect on the End of the Year and a New Start, with Bridget Gleason [Episode 343]

Welcome to another Front Line Friday with my remarkable guest, Bridget Gleason. On this week’s episode, Bridget and I discuss, among other topics, Bridget’s exciting new position, what to do about end of the year reflections, things that are really important, and determining what to do better next year.

Key Takeaways

  • Bridget is opening a U.S. office, of Logz.io, based in Tel Aviv, in Boston. She can be contacted at Logz.io or at LinkedIn.
  • This is the last episode of 2016. It’s time to reflect on the past year. How do you conduct this with your team? What does Bridget refer to as ‘a habit of reflection’?
  • Personal reflection covers different facets of life — family, business, etc. Have you given the right time to family and friends? What about to health, exercise, and learning?
  • To start the year, Bridget is very goal-oriented, professionally. She writes goals in a journal, and keeps them in mind. She reflects, what would she change in the next year?
  • Both family relationships and business relationships impact your success. How do personal relationships affect business? How has Bridget learned to work more efficiently?
  • When you look back, do you start with your failures, or your successes? What were your unexpected achievements, and why did they happen?
  • What do we do about the times we didn’t achieve what we wanted to, or didn’t live up to our standards? How do we take an honest look at our failures?
  • What has Andy learned from theologian Paul Tillitch’s quote on achievements and failure?
  • Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego Is the Enemy, reminds us to keep our own egos in check.
  • According to a recent survey, what is the one thing, in looking back on life, people wish they would have changed?
  • Bridget quotes from Devotion: Love and the Power of Small Steps, by Kim Nicol. What does Bridget see is the trend on mindfulness in the workplace?
  • Andy cites Turning the Mind Into an Ally, by Sakyong Mipham, and Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment — and Your Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D.

Episode Transcript

ANDY PAUL: It’s time to Accelerate. Hi, I’m your host, Andy Paul. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership management, training, coaching, and any other resource that I believe will help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you. Hello and welcome to Accelerate. This is another episode – actually the last episode for the year – of Frontline Friday, with my very special guest, Bridget Gleason. Bridget, how are you?

BRIDGET GLEASON: Andy, I am great. Happy end of the year!

AP: Happy end of the year! I think that you need to tell us about some new assignment that you have.

BG: Oh, I’m so excited about my new assignment. I just got back from two and a half weeks in Tel Avi. I joined a startup out of Tel Aviv called Logz.io, which is in the log management and analytic space for data logs. It’s a great, innovative team out of Israel. Lots of great stuff coming out of Tel Aviv; it’s a really entrepreneurial city. It’s a really entrepreneurial country, so I feel thrilled to be to be part of it. I’ll be opening up their U.S. office. So we’re looking for salespeople and sales engineers. We’ll have a presence in San Francisco and we’ll build out a team also in Boston.

AP: Excellent. Okay. So, is there a place that people should contact you with that?

BG: I’m super, super easy to find bridget@logz.io or LinkedIn.

AP: All right, excellent. Okay, let’s move on. Here we are in the last week of the year and I think everyone’s focused on “Okay, what’s going to happen next year? What are we doing?? They always seem to overlook reflecting back on the year that just passed and really understanding what happened or what didn’t happen and why. I think without that reflection, it’s really hard to put together a solid plan for the following year. So how do you do that?

BG: That’s a super good question I think it’s a really important practice. I tended to try to do it on a more regular basis. As part of my process, I like to look and be reflective at the end of a meeting or at the end of the day. I like to look back and say, “What happened?” I would say part of it is to develop a discipline around reflection, and not waiting for just the big milestones in life – either personally or in business. Just make it a habit of reflection. We can learn so much by being thoughtful, and looking at what happened and how we can learn from it. I would say that would be one is just thinking about it as a practice. I think we’re all maybe perhaps a bit more reflective at the end of the year. Do you want to talk about personal or on the sales side?

AP: Well, I think that you can’t really separate them too much, right? At some point, there’s an integration or crossover. But yeah, let’s start with the personal and work toward sales, but we’ll see where they overlap as well.

BG: Okay. So when I’m doing reflections at the end of the year, there are different facets of my life that I look at. Obviously, business is going to be one of them, but I look at family too. Have the past 12 months been a reflection on how important my family is to me? They say that you can tell what somebody’s priorities are by looking at their calendar. Have I given my family and friends the appropriate attention given how important they are in my life? I look at that aspect. I also look at health, I look at exercise, and I look at how much time is spent is thinking versus doing. Going to the professional aspect, I write out my goals and what I want to do at the beginning of the year, because I’m very goal oriented. Then I always look back to see if I achieved them. If I did, great. If no, why not? It serves as a good guide for me in terms of the following year and what I want to do or accomplish or change. It’s not formal, though. I don’t have a way that I do it every single year or every single day or week or month or quarter. I think being reflective is a really important and valuable way to spend time.

AP: When you talk about how you’re very goal oriented at the beginning of the year, when you get to the end of the year are you still really even aware of what those beginning of the year goals were, or have they shifted to a different set of goals and priorities?

BG: Sometimes they shift, but the way that I make sure they’re at the top of my mind is partially through my journaling routine. What do I want to do, who do I want to be? How do I want to behave? I incorporate that and that keeps them at the top of my mind. Otherwise, it’s very easy for them to slip my mind.

AP: Yeah, well, I think that you talked about some really interesting things, but we’ll start with the issue of family. This is so important because family – whether you’re starting a family or going through a divorce – has a big impact on your ability to succeed at what you’re trying to do. That can be so disruptive to your work life in ways that you’re not even aware of. This idea of investing in your relationships is incredibly important. On a personal level, it’s incredibly important as well as on a professional level.

BG: Yeah, and life interrupts. This is part of the ebb and flow that I think we just have to accommodate. Very rarely do people – in fact, I don’t know of any people who have careers that just go sort of uninterrupted in the way that they had hoped and planned. There will be all kinds of disruptions to our plan, be it a baby or a divorce or a financial setback or a health issue. How we respond and how good we are at developing that resiliency muscle is important. When life interrupted, it actually forced me to be more efficient in my work life and to be more effective, and you and I have talked a lot about results and how oftentimes we measure activity and not results. When life interrupts in a way that I hadn’t planned, I’ve found that it has helped me be more efficient. So I think there can be a positive aspect to it also.

AP: I mean, when we go through this process of reflecting, I think we have a tendency to start with our failures. I think it’s really important to start with your successes. You talked about resilience. You know, we always encounter difficulties. You have to go back and remind yourself of the successes that you achieved despite the difficulties, because you know that that’s really essential to remind yourself. Celebrate the good times. Another thing I think is really important too is, when you think back, what were the unexpected achievements? Why did they happen? That’s the thing that I think gets overlooked. There’s lots of things that occur that maybe weren’t part of your plan, yet you still accomplished them and they were fairly significant on one dimension or another. There’s a lot of lessons to learn because, sometimes it’s just about acting on experience and intuition and not overthinking things.

BG: Yeah. Sometimes we just get lucky, which is wonderful. I think that celebrating the serendipity of life also can be helpful. When things aren’t going our way, remember the surprises we got in life that are positive. Some of them we helped bring about, and others was just a little gift that we got, and they’re both to be celebrated. My Mom is 87. Her cup is always more than half full. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. It’s pouring rain and she’ll say, “Oh my goodness, this is wonderful. We’ve so needed this rain.” I sometimes marvel at her ability to celebrate. My sisters and I always say that the sun always shines brighter on my mother in her. To her at least, it’s always like she’s been given the best gift ever. There’s a gift to that and if we’re not reflective, we just brush those things under the rug. I think we miss something when we do that.

AP: Or we spend too much time thinking about what occurred before and ruminating on it. Your mom puts the negative in its proper perspective.

BG: It’s so true. She has a great ability to put it in perspective- because she doesn’t forget about it. But she’s able to put a spin on it in her mind, and to be really positive. I’m not suggesting that we should all put a positive spin on everything because it’s also important to take a hard look at where we didn’t achieve what we wanted to or where we didn’t live up to a standard that we’ve held for ourselves or whatever it is. There’s also something very valuable about taking an honest look at ourselves. That’s hard. I don’t think any of us like to look at the places where we failed or where we’ve let ourselves or other people down, whether it’s personal or professional. It takes a lot of maturity and courage to do that.

AP: Yeah. That brings to mind one of my favorite quotes that I found early in my career. I just talked about this in an episode not too long ago, I found the quote in Forbes magazine a long time ago, and cut it out and stuck it on the front of the refrigerator. An American theologian and philosopher by the name of Paul Tillich said, “Awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements – as well as one’s deepest failures – is a definite symptom of maturity.” That really struck me because your successes are transit and your failures are transient and being able to appreciate that is what gives you the maturity to accurately reflect on what’s happened in the past year in your life and make good decisions about what you want to change going forward.

BG: may have mentioned it last time but a book by Ryan Holiday called Ego is the Enemy is just a really thoughtful book about keeping our own egos in check. The gist of the book it really is just keeping keeping our egos in check, but there’s a lot of what we’re talking about today that makes me think about things he talked about in the book. We’re never as great as we think we are and we’re never as bad as people might say we are, so just to have that equilibrium and not get carried away when our ego gets inflated is important. On the other side of it is when things aren’t going our way to not go so far down and take it so seriously and personally that it can be debilitating.

AP: Well, I think that this becomes even more important in today’s day and age where it’s so easy for people to make you feel bad about yourself or it’s so easy for people to build you up in a way that is undeservedly. The tools exist to do that. I think this whole idea of reflection becomes even more important because you are your only real true measure of that.

BG: The other thing he said in the book is he was talking about successful people and he said that we might look on the outside and think that person is so successful, but we actually don’t know what their internal measure of success or happiness is and how they’re measuring it. I think that is really interesting. I’m a huge believer in having a professional coach. It’s kind of like a professional therapist for my work life. One of the things that I had said to my executive coach when I was evaluating what I was going to do next before I took this role with logz.io, was that my goal was that I was going to enjoy this experience. Whichever role that I chose, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to enjoy the rewards of it, I’m going to enjoy the challenge. Life’s too short. I’m going to be intentional about how I internalize this role.

AP: I think there’s a good lesson here about the topic of worrying. There was a study that’s published about a year ago where they surveyed people age 60 and up on what their biggest regret in life in life was, and the answer was really surprising. Nearly everybody wished that they had worried less.

AP: I think the lesson here is as you’re reflecting back on the year and thinking about the big deals, the big opportunities, or the crucial moments, what did the worry get you? There’s going to be a little performance nerve, that’s fine. In most cases, though, it extends far beyond that. What did it get? So, if you’re turning your lens forward and thinking about things you can work on this coming year, if you can be a little more mindful, in the moment, and present, you’ll be more effective in those situations than if you’re distracted by your nerves.

BG: Yeah, and I think it’s so much easier said than done. It’s a practice. Everything is a practice.

AP: I think about my own experience with becoming a public speaker over the last four or five years. I remember my first event I spoke at, I was like, “Okay, can I step on stage?” You know, there’s so much worry going on. Now, through practice and repetition and so on, it’s hardly ever an issue. I might have a  performance nerve but I’m not worried about how’s it going to go well, or how people perceive me. We’re seeing this increased usage and incorporation of mindfulness practices in work. Well, you’re seeing much more about it. You know, a conference just happened in Washington, DC all about mindfulness within the workplace so the idea of being present being in the moment and meditative techniques to help us reduce the stress in our life are really important.

BG: You know, it’s interesting. I advise a company up in San Francisco, a little startup called Tent. I was up there yesterday and the CEO said, “Oh, I have something for you.” He gave me this book called Devotion, which is about mindfulness and mindfulness in the workplace. I just think that’s so interesting that that’s a big part of what he wants to bring to the table as a CEO. People are seeing that it can be very valuable in the workforce that we can have a different relationship with our work, rather than it being something that is just a cause of stress and worry and a paycheck. It’s called Devotion by Kim Nickel, and it’s great. He said, “You can just open it up at any point and read and see what it says to you.” This one says, “You are remarkable, powerful, beautiful, caring, strong. You judge yourself so harshly. But that’s because you have such high expectations for what you should be. The person you want to be isn’t half as amazing as a person you already are.” That’s a different orientation with work and what that needs to be like.

AP: Yeah, I agree. For people to follow up on this, there’s that book Devotions. There’s a couple books I recommend. One of those is by Matthew Bellows and it’s called Turning the Mind into An Ally. Another great book written by a gentleman who’s really sort of pioneered a lot of the mindfulness work in the United States is Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness for Beginners. Excellent reads for people just to sort of understand the concept of mindfulness and how you might begin to incorporate it into your life. I think if people would document how much time they spend worrying it would be crazy, because inherently I think the time they spend worrying is time they’re not spending working. There’s a lot of time you can free up.

BG: Yeah, that’s so true.

AP: All right, well, so hopefully we’ve helped people a little bit with reflections. Think about the past year, celebrate your successes, think about things you want to do a little bit better going forward with some behavior changes, and worry less. Daily reflections and more frequent reflections after events can really help minimize some of that because you’re doing it right at the time. You’re not letting it fester. Start reading about our recommendations about mindfulness, or anything else you think that will help give you a center, a little bit of peace, and will make you more productive and help you enjoy what you’re doing better.

BG: Couldn’t agree more.

AP: All right, well, Bridget, it’s been a marvelous year. It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year, but it’s been nothing but fantastic and it’s always great to talk to you every week. I know the audience is enjoying it too. I look forward to another year of this and we’re going to talk about your new adventure soon so people get the details about what it’s like to build a sales team from scratch. Happy New Year, my friend. Everybody who listens to this, I hope you have happy new year as well and I hope it’s been a successful year. Hope you have a joyous holiday season and we’ll look forward to talking with you all next year.

BG: Have a great one. Bye now.

AP: Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guests, visit my website at andypaul.com