On the Shoulders of Giants

The more you acknowledge your past successes, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones.

Jack Canfield

I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish this coming year. Perhaps you have too. It is, after all, the season of introspection.

My plan was to write about that today, and encourage you to do the same, until I realized I was getting ahead of myself; this is also the season of retrospection.

I’ve repeatedly heard that we stand on the shoulders of giants. And we do. No doubt about it. As a society, as individuals—we are greatly indebted to others who have blazed trails and laid foundations that we now travel and build upon.

But those giants––they include ourselves. Those giants are you and me. Your past self. Your 2019 self.

Before investing all our energy in the new, take time out to pay homage to the old. Spend a few minutes writing down what you accomplished this past year.

For some of you that’s a relatively easy exercise. You do this naturally. When people ask you about your life, there’s a narrative or story that emphasizes, dwells on what has gone well. For those of you for whom this isn’t reflexive—and I include myself in that camp—it’s automatic to compose a story of the prior year that features only what didn’t work, what you weren’t happy about. The ogres of the year past.

But because we know we get more of what we are grateful for. Pausing to note the successes of 2019 and feel gratitude for them sets a tone for the year to come; it prepares us for future success.

I’ll include some of my highpoints as writing prompts for you–––

1. I set a goal to start running, and improve by 1% per day, and I did. (More on that in the podcast).

2. I was more deliberate this holiday season, including taking a week away from work.

3. We set a goal to buy a home, and we did.

4. I moved up the S Curve of Learning as an entrepreneur.

5. I was more deliberate in the study of my faith, personally and with our family.

6. I stopped watching television when I’m on the road, instead using the discretionary time to read books or socialize.

7. And a big one–I worked on becoming more aware of when I’ve been triggered and getting more capable of managing it.

Notice how several of these accomplishments are around behaviors. Small movements. You wouldn’t notice if I did or didn’t do them; I might not even notice. That’s what growth looks like initially––moving along an S Curve of Learning. Disrupting yourself. What begins as imperceptible, over time has a cumulative, compounding––and remarkable––effect.

What are you proud of? What did you accomplish? What went right?

Call it out. Especially to yourself.

Our podcast episode this week (which, by the way, is where I got the idea for this newsletter) is a retrospective. It includes a list of our most popular episodes, those that our team especially liked, and what we are doing differently because of these conversations. Coincidentally—or probably not—our most popular episode talked about the word for the season: Joy.

Which podcast episode most changed you? Whether it was one you talked about, shared, or did something different because of what you heard?

I always love to hear from you!

Again, congratulations on what you accomplished in 2019!

My best,

P.S. If you’re curious or want to explore some episodes you may not have heard the first time around, the five most downloaded episodes from 2019 were episodes 93 (James Clear)100 (Take the Right Risks)111 (Brené Brown)112 (Marcus Buckingham) and 120 (Play to Your Distinctive Strengths).

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