23 Thoughts for 2023
Written by Anthony Demangone, Powered by NAFCU.
Every year, I update these thoughts. Rest assured; I write this as much for myself than anyone else. In a few short days, we'll pass into a new year. As 2023 approaches, many of us will reflect on where we are today with a thought on how we can improve.
Along those lines, here are 23 "thoughts" for 2023.
- Never forget the power of one. As you look toward 2023, or tomorrow, or the next meeting, never forget the power that resides within you. All of us can change ourselves, our homes, our careers, and even our communities.It isn't easy. But it is within us all. Never forget or underestimate this power.
- Leading is counter intuitive. As a leader, you want things done your way. You have a vision. It can be tempting to lean in to micromanage or tweak. That’s not the best path to achieve your vision. When you micromanage and tweak, you take away ownership and train your team to wait for direction. The better path? Hire those that share your vision. Preach your vision every day. Your team may find a better way to get there.
- Seek to understand. Too often, I judge before I try to understand. I'm 51 years old, and this is a rule that I break regularly. Society trains managers to look for problems. To offer our two cents to "fix" things. Imagine if everyone focused on "understanding" first.
- Focus on developing others. Your next email can build people up or cut someone down. You can criticize or offer guidance and wisdom. You can add to the noise or make things better. The choice is yours. But if you want to build stronger, more confident colleagues, the choice is clear.
- Create the world you want to inhabit. We wish the world were kinder, or more efficient, or this, or that. Well, start with what you control. Create the environment that you want to inhabit. Don't be passive. Don't wait for it to appear. Make it appear. The results can be amazing.
- There's no free lunch. If you want to change something, you'll have to...well, change something. That means something must give. There are only so many hours in the day. If you want to improve some facet of your life, the investment in time, energy and focus must come from someplace else.
- There's no substitute for hard work. For many people my age, Jerry Seinfeld personifies comedy. He is just plain funny. Was he born that way? Perhaps. But he also works hard. Behind every successful person, you'll see hard, focused work. Nearly everything I see and read backs this up. If you're looking for a silver bullet or secret to success, stop looking. And start working.
- Watch out for vampires. There's a good deal of negative energy out there. Stay clear of it. And beware of those that feed off negative energy. Seth Godin does a wonderful job of highlighting this trend. He calls these folks "vampires." Vampires will not help you improve in 2023. In his words: "It's so tempting to evangelize to the vampires, to prove them wrong, to help them see how destructive they are. This is food for them, merely encouragement. Shun the ones who feed on your failures." It can be hard to cut off negative influences in your life. But what's the alternative? Allowing them to drag you down? Stay clear of the vampires. And better yet, strive to spend more time with those who see the world as you do - from a positive, can-do, point of view.
- Be that guy. We all have chances during our days to help. To brighten the mood. To pitch in. To make things better. To encourage others. Do it. As I said before, the results can be amazing. Life is so short. Spread joy when you can.
- Learn. Never stop learning. My pal John Spence sums it up in this blog video called Personal Kaizen. Life-long learning is the key to personal success and happiness. The more I learn, the more I understand. And that understanding allows me to connect dots and see patterns. Learn from your successes. And your failures.
- Read. If you learn about successful people, you'll find that they read. A ton. This is akin to life-long learning. Carve out more time in 2023 to read. You won't be sorry that you did. (And hate to read? OK, listen to a podcast that pushes you forward.)
- Be clear. You may think you are clear, but chances are, you are not. Poor communication plagues every organization, and it saps time and energy. Be clear with expectations, deadlines, language, and your feelings. If something could be taken the wrong way, don't say or write it. In other words, banish the fog. And you can start immediately. With your next email.
- Stop taking things personally. It can be difficult to receive critical feedback. Feedback, however, is a great way to improve. Your colleagues want what's best for your members. And they want you to succeed. Look at their feedback as a gift. See your colleagues as trusted advisors, and see their feedback as the help that it is.
- Simplify. Is your life too busy? Too many things going on? Fix that. Remember, it is your life. You're in control. There are countless stories of how far leaders go to simplify things. The busier you are, the more important this is. Simplification reduces stress, increases your attention, and frees up time to work on your priorities. Don't know where to start? Here's one of many articles that talk about how to de-clutter your life.
- Invest in the future. Ask yourself this question. In a month, six months, or two years, will I be glad I did this today? That simple question will help you prioritize. Think and act with an eye to the horizon.
- Health. I'm not telling you to focus on your health in 2023. But I'll say this much. When your health is good, everything else seems to go a bit better as well. It is a sort of a life "springboard." Don't have time? Really?
- Block out the noise. There's too much noise. Social media. Radio. Television. Advertisements. How much of it affects you? How much is important? Very little. The more you can block out the noise, the better. Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture wrote a wonderful piece on how to cut down on the noise in your life.
- Focus where you make a difference. Akin to blocking out the noise is the need to focus where you make a difference. Take the past 5 Presidential campaigns. Along the way, I'm sure you heard that if this or that candidate was elected, we'd be doomed. I'm not so sure. Don't get me wrong...Presidential elections are important. But don't overestimate their control over your destiny. Become informed, and then vote. Then move on. There are a number of things you can control in your own life that will determine your success. More than who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.
- Focus on what you're doing now. We've become a distracted society. Between Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones, television, Netflix, and iPads, it is harder to find folks who focus on what they are doing and who they are with. It seems everyone is focused on the next thing, and then quickly on to the next thing after that. We've become a society of multi-taskers. People who are great at getting things done have a master plan, but they focus on the task at hand. Completely.
- Easy ends up being hard. I saw this on my boss' twitter feed. It hit me over the head like a sledge hammer. Taking the easy way out has its own cost.
- Be world class. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, be the best you can be. Be world class. People will notice.
- Push yourself. Life is a series of jumps. Problems that seem large in high school often seem small as you progress in life. But when you leave one box for another, you confront new problems that seem large. Until you move on to the next box. Stay in your box, and you'll be safe. Move to large boxes, and you'll need to learn and grow. Life, it seems, is all about boxes and cracks.
- Never forget the journey. I love the process of self-improvement. I love planning. And spreadsheets. But even though it is important to plan, don't neglect this moment. While it can be difficult sometimes to remember it, each of us is blessed. Through my 51 years, it seems the happiest people around me are those that appreciate the good in their lives. I'm no Pollyanna. There will be clouds and rain for all of us. But there will be sunshine and gentle breezes as well. Always take a moment to enjoy life. To appreciate beauty. To say please and thank you. Self-improvement involves what we do. Never forget why you do it.
Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope your 2023 is filled with laughter, smiles, health, and success. And if I can ever help along the journey, please let me know. I think life is better when we work together.
About the Author
Anthony Demangone, NCCO is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at NAFCU, where he oversees day-to-day operations and manages the association's education, marketing, membership, human resources, building facilities, finance and information technology functions. He also authors NAFCU's executive blog, Musings from the CU Suite and co-authored "Managing and Leading Well," a book for credit union leaders, with NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger.