The Large Benefits of Spring Cleaning your Thinking Process
As we marked start of spring this past weekend, we are hopefully on the precipice of this century’s rite of passage: a vaccinated, post-pandemic world—a new world.
The question for each of us will be: Do we revert to the old world, or do we advance to a new world? The reality is that it’s not either/or; it’s AND—taking from the old and the new to create the different, it’s up to leaders to model a new way forward.
Spring cleaning takes us first inward, so we can move onward. Only then can we consider moving outward. It’s a subtle point that’s easily overlooked. We can get caught up in trying to change the external without really seeing what’s internal. Self-awareness, after all, precedes self-change—and at every level of the organization.
It’s not about transactional doing—it’s more of a transformational being.
For change to take root, we need to decide what stays, what goes. Reminiscing is one thing, but getting stuck in the past is quite another.
When I was a kid, people used to talk a lot about the “good old days.” And sometimes, it seemed like those were the days they wanted to live in. To be sure, memories are to be cherished. I have a pair of green scrubs that I wore at the hospital when one of my children was born in the back of my closet. I’ll never wear them again—but I won’t get rid of them, either.
It’s amazing what we hold onto—like those five pairs of faded khaki pants or the jacket that doesn’t fit anymore. However, if we don’t make space, we’ll never incorporate the new—to illuminate our own attitude.
Our sights must be on where we want to go, not where we have been. If we don’t evolve and grow, and if our colleagues don’t grow—and go—with us, we will all be left in the old world. As I’ve said to our team, “We can’t think of ourselves as a 52-year-old firm. We need to think like a 5-month-old startup.”
At the same time, our spring cleaning can help us gain a new appreciation for what has brought us to this point. Instead of revamping everything, we also want to focus on what has served us well.
It’s time to wash the windows. Here are some thoughts:
- What goes—chaos, clutter, outdated thinking. This is the “junk” that takes up the space we need to grow. It’s about removing clutter, eliminating chaos, restoring a sense of order, and ushering in the new. Top of the disposal list—the complacent inertia of conventional wisdom that keeps people and organizations stuck in that’s the way we do things around here. Easy to intellectualize, but elusive to actualize—part strategy, but mostly judgment. It’s sense and sensibility. A clean sweep, though, is liberating. It brings fresh air—and opens the space for a new perspective.
- What stays—the five mindsets: Purpose. Courage. Awareness. Inclusion. Integrative Thinking. These are the five crucial mindsets—identified in our firm’s latest research, based on hundreds of thousands of executive assessments. They’ve guided the best of leaders through the crisis, and they’re non-negotiable in a post-pandemic world. This is what we need to keep—and develop. These five mindsets will continue to make a huge difference in terms of impact and contribution. And they apply everywhere, at every level. The purpose is the reason behind everything we do—the bridge from what we’ve been to what we will become. Courage—not having “no fear,” but rather to “know fear”—as we embrace continued ambiguity. Awareness, as we shift from “me” to “we.” Inclusion—it’s a behavior: leading the many while at the same time understanding the perspective of all. Integrative thinking—sculpting a mosaic, rather than only chipping away at the individual tiles.
- Clean the whole house. Once we create an order for ourselves, we can now help others. Not everyone is in the same place right now. Despite the longer, brighter days, many people are still suffering, and some of us are still locked in winter; a colleague shared his observations on a recent drive. While sitting at a stoplight, he looked left and saw a man jogging by in shorts and no shirt—then, looking right, an ice fisherman huddled in a parka on a frozen lake. Last week, as I called to make dinner reservations, the person asked if we “would like to eat inside.” I was dumbfounded—what a novel concept. In the old world, the question was, “Would you like to sit outside?” My mind had only myopically focused on the present, not fully incorporating the reality of the past. For many more months, as we live in the duality—masks or no masks, Zoom or in-person—the key will be AND, not simply either/or, as we clean the entire house. It’s a holistic approach.
As we spring clean the nooks of our minds, we may find things that may not be of use to us, but they may be useful to others. Spring cleaning is a lot like leadership—it can be learned and absorbed only by doing, starting with the most important lesson of all: to lead others, you must first lead yourself.
Cliff Locks is a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor to CEOs, C-Level Exec, and high-potential employees to help them clarify goals, unlock their potential, and create actionable strategic plans.
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I am a trusted mentor, confidant, and advisor available by Zoom and by phone to be your right-hand man, who will make a significant contribution and impact on your way to success.
As a Trusted Mentor, Confidant, and Advisor, I support you, along with your company’s strategic and annual operating plan. This plan may include marketing, sales, product development, supply chain, hiring policies, compensation, benefits, performance management, and succession planning.
Most successful leaders enjoy talking to someone about their experiences, which is why most develop a close relationship with a Trusted Confidant—a person with whom they feel free to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of sharing too much or being judged by the people they lead, or their colleagues and superiors. I am a sounding board who will help you to better develop and see your ideas through to fruition.
The most effective Executive find confidants who complement their strengths and sharpen their effectiveness. Bill Gates uses Steve Ballmer in this way; Warren Buffett turns to vice chairman Charlie Munger. In the end, both the Executive and their organizations benefit from these relationships.
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What many executives feel is missing from their busy life is a trusted business person who understands the holistic complexity of both their business and personal life.
I strive to provide solid financial, business, and family expertise and serve as a dispassionate sounding board, a role I like to call “Executive Confidant.”
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The job of an Executive can be lonely. For various reasons, confiding in colleagues, company associates, family members, or friends presents complications. Powerful, successful, and wealthy individuals often isolate themselves as a protective reaction because of their inability to find people they can trust and confide in.
Successful people are often surrounded by many people, yet they insulate and isolate themselves to varying levels of degree. This isolation factor is not often discussed in the same context because the assumption is that success and wealth only solve problems. The false belief is that it does not create more problems, when, in fact, sometimes it creates a unique set of new challenges. Success and wealth do not insulate you from the same pitfalls that the everyday person faces. It may give you access to better solutions perhaps, and that is what I can help you achieve. Financial business success can create unique vulnerabilities, often overlooked as most people feel that the “problems” of the wealthy are not real-life problems.
The Executive Confidant can be particularly helpful when:
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Who can you turn to when you need to find clarity? Who is your “Executive Confidant”?
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