Happy Chinese New Year! As a global organization, this is an exciting time for us. A third of our team is based out of the Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore, and for the next week, they’ll be celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends and family. As for the rest of us not based in APAC, our focus tends to turn towards the Chinese Zodiac since the start of a new lunar calendar means a new animal from the 12-year Zodiac cycle.
2015 kicks off the Year of the Goat, the 8th position in the cycle. Last year, in celebration of the New Year and the Zodiac, we explored Leadership Lessons from the Year of the Horse. As such, it only makes sense to continue the theme and uncover what lessons can be learned from the Year of the Goat.
According to ChineseZodiac.com, the Goat (or Sheep) symbolizes such character traits as creativity, intelligence, dependability, and calmness. Those born under the year of the goat tend to be comfortable being alone to ponder the workings of their inner minds.
I don’t know about you, but “pondering the workings of ones’ inner mind” sounds a lot like a fancy way of describing the act of reflection. Reflections are an important part of the Emergenetics company culture. Those of you familiar with our company know that every Emergenetics event begins and ends with a moment of reflection. We’re usually asked to take a moment to ponder a question such as, “I came to this meeting thinking/feeling, and I am leaving thinking/feeling.” Emergenetics International founder Dr. Geil Browning has written about the topic numerous times. You can check out one of her recent articles for Inc.com here.
I think the primary lesson to be learned from the year of the goat is this: make time for regular reflection. The act of reflection, or pausing to solidify how you feel about a particular experience or circumstance, helps to clarify your thinking and consolidates in your mind what matters and what you wish to achieve. This is a crucial step in both personal and professional growth. The growth process can be painful and uncomfortable, but reflections can help with that! Pausing to ask yourself why you feel uncomfortable will help you to tackle the situation and identify how to overcome the obstacles standing in your way.
We don’t always feel like there is time to stop and think about our actions. We get distracted and don’t ask ourselves if we’re being an effective co-worker, manager, or even friend or spouse. But, no matter the roles you are asked to play, if you don’t ever stop to examine where you are and how you got there, or what direction you’re heading, then you might end up veering off course from where you want to be.
Whether you reflect daily, weekly, or quarterly, this is your chance to calibrate your actions with your goals. Determine if you are in balance or if you are giving too much focus to one area and not enough in another. I am reminded of a great quote by Covey, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” Your team will hold you accountable for how you act, not just for the positive intentions you had for doing good. And reflection is your chance to ensure your behavior matches your intent.
Here’s to a great new lunar year! May it bring you many opportunities for quiet reflection and personal growth.