Are you rushing out of the 2024 starting blocks, as you do every January? As a leader, are you driving your team forward at full throttle in an attempt to get ahead of your competitors and hit your targets in record time? This approach is something we see every year, and every year it proves to be unsustainable and often damaging in the long run. Instead, we advocate patience and prioritisation as a far more effective strategy for success.

I heard a wonderful quote from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Wardo Emerson recently which really resonated: “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience”. He is so right. We need only look at the natural world to see that it’s the things that take time to grow that last for centuries. Mother Nature has a rhythm based on maximising energy efficiency, working slowly and deliberately rather than rushing headlong into action. We humans can learn so much from her!

Managing energy – our own as well as our team’s – is a major focus in our leadership development programmes and client mentoring because, as we blogged recently, energy management is a key driver of effectiveness. Operating at breakneck speed can break us (the clue is in the word!) and also wreaks havoc on the environment as we sacrifice the natural world in the name of human progress. So, what are the patience lessons we can learn from nature to enhance organisational success and personal effectiveness?

  1. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

This message features on every presentation we do and is central to our company ethos. Inspired by geese (see this short video for a full explanation), we believe that leaders and their teams achieve the most when they fly in unison. When geese migrate, they only travel as fast as the slowest bird, and as leaders we must take care not to be impatient and leave others behind in our rush to get to our destination. We should always tailor our approach to match the pace of those around us to ensure we carry them with us. If we do this, they will soon gain the knowledge and confidence to pick up speed and move more quickly.

  1. Prioritise where you put your energy

A plant has many stages to go through each year and is so clever about how it uses its resources to maximise effectiveness at every point in its cycle. Whether it’s sprouting leaves, thickening its stems, flowering, fruiting, or producing seeds for the future, it puts its energy where it’s most needed. If you look around you in January, nature is in preparation mode, not action focused. When leaders use the start of the year to plan, prepare and prioritise rather than rushing into activity, it helps put everything into context. This stage takes patience and consideration, but it’s such an important investment in the future.

  1. Be attuned to your surroundings

I am constantly amazed by the symbiotic eco system of nature, how every element works with its surroundings and adapts to the prevailing conditions, at all times focused not just on surviving but thriving. Applying the same approach to business and leadership has a similar effect, creating greater resilience and maximising performance. When we consider the needs of those around us as well as ourselves, we all benefit. If energy is in short supply, it’s vital to adapt and channel it where it’s most needed. When resources are abundant, it’s time to spread our roots and put on extra growth to create a buffer for the inevitable storms ahead.

Here are three things to consider this January:

  1. In your team meetings, listen carefully to check that everyone is engaged and secure in their tasks. How are you feeling? Is your knee bouncing up and down?  Are you feeling impatient?  Can you relax and breathe into it and then observe, does anyone need additional clarity or support? What could you do to help them?

  2. Set aside time in your schedule this month for reflection and planning, and be disciplined to use it only for this! Recognise that it’s impossible to do everything at once, so consider which of your goals are the most important this month and prioritise them. Then book time in early February to do the same, and again on a monthly basis thereafter. Things will change and each month your priorities may well do too.
  3. Consider how to create a more effective learning environment in your team/organisation, where people share ideas and are able to talk about how things can be improved. What impact might this have on your people and performance this year? Talk to us about After Action Review, the ultimate learning response tool.

Practising patience and actively resisting our urge to be impatient provides so many opportunities to grow, to learn and to perform better, but the first step is recognising that we’re being impatient. Why not stop and take a breath today and make sure you’re in a suitably low gear as you embark on your 2024 journey? And if I can help support you, please get in touch.

Let’s start something new!

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