Finding the positive in RAIN

Rain. It’s something that we think happens a lot here in the UK and perhaps it does, though it seems to depend on how you measure it. My experience is that it doesn’t rain that often we just have lots of days where it looks like it could rain, where we see little sun, and where you avoid planning to do something “because it looks like rain”.

Since we, well the British readers anyway, like to talk about the weather so much, it was on one rare rain-soaked run that my mind considered if RAIN could become something more positive and a prompt to think about the challenges we might be facing.

As a country, we’re in our third period of national lockdown and that’s perhaps given us more reason to pause and consider the things we’re involved with, the things that matter, and at the start of a new year what our plans for the next twelve months might be.

This is what I came up with –

Review

Attitude

Investment

Next Action

Let’s look at each in a bit more detail –

Review

Stopping to review is something that we often fail to do. When the task is completed, then we’re already thinking about what is next on the list, what the next opportunity demands or where we will invest our time. Rushing ahead prevents us from learning from what has just happened. It may not be that we need to do something different, but we could identify a good way that we want to repeat. Asking questions about what you have just done helps you understand what may have contributed to the outcome. Understanding if those previous activities were challenges or things you excelled at can also help to guide your development and give you pointers to the activities you may want to do more of in the future.

Attitude

Words often end up having negative associations. We think of an attitude as something that someone has wrong rather than it being centred around the approach that someone takes.

The exception is perhaps the occasions where we talk about approaching something with a positive mental attitude.

I find it interesting that we seem to have convinced ourselves that we need to choose to be positive rather than it being our normal approach.

Being aware of the attitude that we have towards an activity or in a situation can help us understand how we are contributing to the outcome. Focus less on what the attitude is and consider why you may view the task in a particular way. This is a potential insight into the shadow that we may cast onto others, on how doing specific tasks challenges or provides us with energy, and again points to where we may want to develop or spend more time.

The attitude that we take into a situation will affect what happens next, our own experience, and the experience of others. Being aware of this is part of our review, but also something that is in our control to consider.

Investment

We all start each day with the same number of hours as everyone else, yet some seem to achieve more in that time than we think possible. I’ve long argued that there is (nearly) always sufficient time to get done the things we want to do.

Even today, as lockdown home-schooling continues, my daughter started with a long list of school tasks yet found that by lunchtime she’d already made significant progress and the task was nowhere near as daunting as it first appeared.

It’s all too easy to ignore the value of time and for the hours to disappear without us achieving what we may have wanted to do. It is worth challenging ourselves to consider if we’re investing our time in the things we want, or perhaps need to do. Few tasks need to be done in their own right, so again we should be able to question if time spent doing a task we believe needs to be done is contributing to the outcome we want to achieve.

It is all too easy to invest in things that don’t achieve the outcome, or even worse, to allow others to invest our time for us. That meeting request you accept without understanding why, how or what you’re contributing to is a good example. Just as happens with financial investments, there will be occasions where we make a speculative investment with our time. There isn’t anything wrong with that as an approach — unless we then fail to explore if the investment got a return and if it didn’t then what we can take from the experience.

Next Action

The to-do list is a staple of life for many of us. If you’re anything like me, then writing the task on the list is often the closet that you get to starting, let alone completing, it. We write lists of the big headings that when we come to look at it feel like they will take too much time to complete and so we don’t get started.

As you complete your review, then think about what is the next action, and be specific, that you need to take. This may be directly linked to the activity, but it could be to do something as part of your development. Whatever it is, then try to make as narrow as possible so you can be sure of completing it.

If you’ve got this far in reading then I doubt you need me to remind you that actions, and goals, should aim to be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. If you want to take it one step further, then make them exciting and reviewed — if nothing else you’ll end up SMARTER!

Next time you glance out of the window at the grey sky or get caught out in a downpour, why not use it as an opportunity to trigger a RAIN pause — review, attitude, investment and next action? I’d love to hear about the results for you.

Written by

An experienced senior digital business leader with experience of delivering transformative change.

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