Reflecting on 2023: Learning from Wins and Failures

As 2023 draws to a close, we find ourselves looking to 2024. We start planning, strategizing, and seeking to make 2024 a year better than 2023. This is a societal norm and a good one at that. However, before we can look forward, we must first reflect on the past year.

Why is it important for you to look back?

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.” – George Santayana.

Looking back is crucial as it allows you to learn from your wins and from your failures, helping to refine and improve your efforts going forward. If you never take the time to reflect and look back, you will simply repeat the same as you did before.

As leaders, we are driven by growth, not by stagnation. And in essence, we need to look back to keep growing.

What to focus on when looking back?

If you structure looking back in the wrong way, it can be counterproductive. Here are some points to keep in mind when looking back on the past year:

  1. Start with things that people are looking forward to. Launch of a new product, celebrations, staff events etc. This helps to boost morale at a time in the year when many of your team may be feeling drained.
  2. What did you learn, celebrate, and appreciate. Asking these questions will reframe your thinking to focus on what you got right as opposed to what you got wrong.
  3. Sharing your answers to question two allows for mutual support & respect between teams. Sharing your answers allows everyone to hear about your achievements and celebrate with you.
  4. Client feedback provides key points to add to your strategy. Discussing and gathering feedback from your clients is crucial in allowing you to plan your year ahead properly.

How to frame the negatives from the year?

Not everything can go as planned. Sometimes a team member leaves, a client leaves, or a project doesn’t work out. These can leave a negative taste in our mouths, but they shouldn’t.

These instances allow for deeper reflection and greater learnings. Let’s use an employee leaving for example.

If an employee leaves, an exit interview should be done asking specific questions around their time at the company and their reasons for leaving. This information will allow you to reflect on their answers, understanding what led this instance to occur.

While sometimes it may be out of your control, other times it could shine the light on a weak spot that needs some attention.

Reflection is a huge part of growth, and without it, you will simply keep repeating the same pattern as before.

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