The Power of a Good Reset

It’s been more than 15 years since I graduated college but right about this time each August, I get the urge to hit a reset button. It’s as though I’m preparing to hit the books once again. I commit to a more intense exercise regime. I pick up the pace on my business book reading. I break out fresh new notebooks, I clean out my desk drawers, and I read (and re-read) my business goals for the year.

Then, my focus kicks into high gear.

Turns out I’m not alone in this little mental exercise, and it’s not only a good thing for my health, it can be a great thing for business. Here are three principles I abide by in my end-of-summer reset:

  • Tune Out Before You Burn Out: I realize that I’m able to do such a reset because I did what I hope you’ve taken time to do: I find time to tune out, to ensure that I don’t burn out. In his research paper, “Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom,”author Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries writes: “The secret of truly successful, creative people may well be that they learned very early in life how not to be busy.” It’s uncomfortable at first, and it’s taken me years to get there, but to perform at your best, you must give yourself a true mental break, even if you don’t think it’s possible. Indeed, there’s always a way to work in a good break, especially if you want to prevent burn out. You—and your organization—will be stronger a result.
  • Force Some Perspective: Leaders operate today with a speed unlike ever before, given the need to evolve business structure, develop and introduce new products, and adapt to new funding streams and opportunities before the opportunity passes. It can be exhausting. But that exhaustion can be channeled into energy with a little perspective. As Glenn Llopis wrote in Forbes, “When you make it a point to stop, reflect and assess your actions, tendencies and behaviors, you will begin to see certain patterns that you can improve upon and/or eliminate all together.” Llopis suggests that every leader periodically ask himself or herself the following three questions: “What must I keep doing?”, “What must I start doing?”, and “What must I stop doing?” I take my answers to those questions to heart in these final weeks of summer, and I make it a point to check back in on them every four weeks through the fall.
  • Encourage Greater Things for Yourself and Your Team: I know from more than a decade of experience in leading my own business that the energy of a company is born from the top. When I am “off,” my team feels off. So my own mental reset is designed to ensure the best in me and those around me. As we head into this new season, consider your own leadership reset to encourage decisiveness in your team, to encourage big, bold and creative thinking, to encourage trying (and where appropriate, some failing), and risk-taking. Some of my best work happens every year in the fall and it’s not by chance.

Finding time for a reset can feel daunting for some, but the best place to start is by listening—especially to your body, your family and your colleagues. You may be surprised how much renewed focus you find in the process.