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Astonish Yourself in 2008

By Gary Ryan Blair

I long ago discovered an important strategy that has allowed me, and my clients to continually improve performance (personal and business) every year. It's called an After Action Review (AAR), and it's all about leveraging knowledge and experience. To experience consistent growth you need to leverage you past experience for all it's worth. In this lesson, I'll show you how to do it.

To make 2008 the best it can be, you need to perform an AAR and analyze what took place in 2007. You need to identify every nugget of knowledge your past performance offers and leverage it. Unfortunately the vast majority of people and companies don't learn enough from their mistakes or their accomplishments. It's like everyone is simply plugging along with their heads down, and it's Ground Hog Day all over again. But, instead of repeating the same day over and again, both companies and individuals seem to repeat the same outlook, approach, and strategies.

You and I both know that no matter how good or bad your results were in 2007 - you can always do better. Yet, the single biggest key to improving both your performance and your results seems to go ignored by almost everybody. If you want to be at the top of your game you absolutely must review, analyze, and learn from what has already happened.

There are seven steps in the AAR process, and you must begin implementing the ideas that you are about to generate immediately.

  1. Identify Your Three Greatest Accomplishments In 2007
    Even if 2007 was a challenging year for you, odds are if you look close enough there's something there to be proud of.

  2. Analyze What You Learned from Each Accomplishment
    Now that you have identified your three greatest accomplishments, go back to each one. This time though identify exactly what you learned or were reminded of by each of them.

  3. Identify Your Biggest Disappointments Of 2007
    Practically every company and individual resists analyzing their mistakes. That's a shame because this is where the best learning comes from.

  4. Analyze What You Learned from Each Failure or Disappointment
    No matter how great everything in life is going - we all make mistakes. The trick here is to really analyze them, what preceded them, what could you have done differently, and how can you prevent them in the future.

  5. Identify How You Limited Yourself Last Year and How Can You Stop
    Were there certain actions you took or didn't take that came back to haunt you? In order to make sure you don't limit yourself again - you need to bring these self-defeating actions to the surface, confront them, and most importantly determine what you must do differently to make sure you don't make the same mistakes all over again.

  6. Pragmatically Review the Information You Have Gathered
    The goal of this exercise is not simply to know yourself and your business better but to actually use the information to make certain 2008 far surpasses 2007. What are the big takeaways from answering each question? What do you know about yourself or your business that you didn't realize or weren't thinking about?

    Obviously, having this list isn't going to do it all, you still need to take this new knowledge and USE IT! Fortunately, that's what the last step is centered around...

  7. Use This Information to Astonish Yourself in 2008
    Ok, now that we've uncovered a lot of useful information, the final step is to incorporate it into a plan for 2008. The purpose here is to build in to your schedule, your interactions, your management style or whatever else, the information you've surfaced in the previous questions and to build yourself a new and better approach.

Success is not an accident. It begins with a well-conceived plan. This is a disciplined thought process, which produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide who you are, where you are going, what you do, and how, when and why you do it. The purpose of personal strategic planning is to help you:

  • Provide direction, meaning, and purpose for your life.
  • Make decisions that positively affect your future.
  • Focus your energies on what's most important.
  • Achieve the greatest results in the shortest period of time.
  • Significantly increase your level of performance.
  • Enjoy more time, money, balance and freedom.
  • Eliminate uncertainty, anxiety, doubt and fear.
  • Leverage your skills more effectively.
  • Enhance your quality of life, and overall peace of mind
  • Be more, do more and ultimately to have more from life.

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