By David Spitulnik, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategic Planning and Leadership
I was thinking about how to properly reset, recharge and reflect when you’re in a position of leadership, big company or small. As I did, I invited Dan Gershenson, my client from Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing, to give his perspective as well. This is how our conversation shaped around that topic.
David: When I look at companies that state that “I need you to be there all the time,” I believe they often mean that they want your attention. Your FULL attention. That’s reasonable, but what often happens as a result of that is that people never truly take a break. And when they never take a break, they’re never really refreshed. They’re never ready to do what is needed when they are needed.
It's a downward spiral.
Therefore, one of the things I’ve thought about is: How do you give people time off? How do you give people a break? How do you give people time to reflect and just enjoy themselves when they need to? Not merely to provide a break but to come back and provide their very best?
In the context of a leader, every leader needs three fundamental R’s for growth and every one of them is undervalued: Reset, Recharge and Reflect. Let’s dive in deeper to those today.
Dan: It’s a fascinating topic. Look, some of us have taken our first vacations anywhere in a year or two. And we’ve realized from being isolated from one another and only communicating by Zoom that we need more. We can’t just save it for later and say, “I’ll reset and recharge when I take off for Cancun for a week.” Hey, that sounds nice, but if you’re waiting for that moment to relax, it’s not healthy. We have to inject the ability to reset and recharge in our daily lives. Part of doing that is to reflect on who we are and where we’re going.
David: It’s crucial to take a moment regularly and ask yourself a simple question: What am I doing? While I might be doing something that represented what I enjoyed at one time in my life, reflecting may open the door to the evolution that’s needed professionally and perhaps personally.
Dan: The evolution of reaching a state where you’re doing what you love. What’s the gap between here and there? What did that feel like when you were in that state? What’s missing now?
I started as a writer but today I’m a Fractional CMO. How did I evolve into that? Client feedback. Strategic partner feedback. A feeling that I could be something more. And the funny thing was, from the standpoint of responsibilities, I had already evolved. I just didn’t realize it was a significant evolution from Point A until I paused and reflected.
David: One thing I advised you on was taking time off on Friday to work on the business instead of in the business. Easier said than done, but I think that sort of thing is what more leaders need to do for pause and reflection.
Dan: 100%. And I don’t think it has to be a grandiose action or accomplishment that comes after you reflect. Just take a step. One hour. One thing. Keep moving on it each day. The cumulative effect will happen with consistency. But I will say the nice thing about taking a block off on Friday is that you know it’s coming and having that time block allows you to let your mind marinate on your short-term goals and long-term goals.
David: Sounds like you’re getting into the Five Questions.
Dan: Well, if there’s one thing that’s made for reflecting, the Five Questions is it. What is my long-term by my definition? Where do I want to go from here? What’s it going to look like when I get there?
These questions don’t get answered in the blink of an eye if you’ve given yourself ample time to reflect on them. And if you need to come back to it to continually add to your answers, go for them.
David: Leaders sometimes think, “Well, I’m already planning things. Why do I need to reflect?” The reality is that, if we look at the very basics of Six Sigma, what is reflection other than analysis? So, it’s from that kind of analysis that you gain the capability to make an adjustment.
Part of that is to stand back from the painting of your life, look at it for perspective and say, “What else does this need?” or “What in this picture needs to be painted over and left behind?”
Dan: You did that to a degree for sure. You would refer to yourself as a leadership advisor and now you’ve added on being a leadership coach and leadership mentor.
David: Someone might say those sound the same but they’re not. The point being, I wanted to help people in different ways – the ways they needed me, not the way I defined it to them. I paused, reflected and realized that I should evolve. Not in a way that was necessarily recognizable to those on the outside but in a very exciting way nonetheless. And after I did that, particularly as a leadership coach, it drove me to get certified by a couple of highly respected organizations. I don’t know if I would’ve recognized to do that if I was purely an advisor.
There are still far too many people who say, “This is who I am,” plant their flag and can never be moved this way or that way.
However, I think that’s wearing blinders. You’re allowed, even encouraged, to continue to grow. It didn’t end when you were a teenager. And that growth awaits you if you make resetting, recharging and reflecting part of your regular routine.
David Spitulnik is the managing partner of Spitulnik Advisors, LLC, a leadership advisory practice in Chicago. He works with organizations and individuals to develop and implement strategies that drive transformation, growth, diversification, operating efficiency, and value creation. David is also the author of a book on leadership titled "Becoming An Insightful Leader: Charting Your Course To Purposeful Success." He is an ACE Certified Coach, received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and on the board of the Youth Job Center.