When I started blogging at Small Town Leadership nearly three years ago, each small town story had a corresponding leadership lesson. I thought I’d take that same approach with a 2018 year-in-review. Here are the 5 top things I’ve learned over the past year.

1) Begin with the end in mind (or not): One year ago, I would not have predicted what I experienced in 2018. I had approximately zero coaching clients, a few speaking gigs booked, a new blog series that I wasn’t sure how to build traction around and a good job that I knew I had outgrown, but wasn’t sure how to move forward from. A year later, I’ve coached over a dozen new clients, booked my speaking calendar so full for a couple of months that I created my own hashtag #monthofspeaking, published 52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections (with bonus weekly videos) and most surprisingly, moved into a new job that allows me to do the things I’ve been called to do for so long – coach, speak, write – while also fulfilling my innate desire to lead. 

Lesson learned: You don’t have to have it all figured out. Many times, you simply need to let it play out.

2) There is always room for more: I’ve often used the analogy with people that my plate doesn’t get too full, I simply grab a bigger plate. I feel that way about the connections and relationships I’ve built this year. There are so many new people in my life who weren’t there at the beginning of the year and now we have formed meaningful relationships.

Lesson learned: We don’t have to spend an hour a week with someone to form a meaningful connection. It can happen through a 30-minute phone call, coffee chat, or meet-up at a networking event. The secret is staying in touch, following one another’s progress, and offering support along the way.

3) Blending is best: Up until this year, I always thought I had to downplay my “side hustle” in the workplace. It didn’t seem relevant, and when I did bring it up, I got concerned that people would think I wasn’t serious about my job. Since letting go of this belief, I’ve brought more of my full self to work. Not only does this feel better, but it also means that I’m adding greater value. Now, when people ask me about blogging or recording videos, I step right into the conversation instead of shying away or downplaying that as something “I do on the side”.

Lesson learned: If you have a gift, share it. If you have a passion, bring it. The world deserves ALL of you. Holding back will only hold you back.

4) Reframe failure: This time last year, I was deep in live event planning mode with two coaching colleagues. We diligently worked our weekly plan, marketing tactics and logistics calendar. And after all of that work, we sold one ticket. Fast forward to the end of this year and I similarly launched a new live event venture. I blanketed my connections and sold one ticket. In both cases, the events were cancelled. I could have folded in on both occasions. Thrown in the towel. Instead, my coaching colleagues and I used the time for our own mastermind and created plans for ourselves that have resulted in amazing accomplishments for all of us this year. As for the other event, I booked myself a spa appointment. 

Lesson learned: Failure is only failure if you classify it that way. I saw both of these “failures” as learning and an opportunity to grow. And to get a facial. 

5) The power of values: This entire year has been a tug on my two core values – family & leadership. Being away from home to pursue my professional goals or cutting bedtime story early so I could jump on a coaching call always pulls at my heart. Similarly, leaving the office with a pile of untouched work so I can make it to latchkey pickup on time is not easy. Even though this is something I understand and have written about, I have to remind myself often that I am the only one putting these high standards and feelings of guilt on myself. Coming back to these values keeps me grounded. The day my daughters started asking me about my company or referencing that I was going somewhere so I could “do Small Town Leadership” or that I had to leave the house early because I had a job interview, I knew that we’d all be OK. Through living these values, I’m able to show my daughters what raw ambition and drive look like. It teaches them that there is no overnight success and there are no free rides.

Lesson learned: There are lessons to be learned when your core values are in conflict. And something magic happens when you find moments to blend your top values together. 

Now it’s your turn:

What were your top lessons learned in 2018? 

How are you going to use those to propel you forward in 2019?

This was originally sent to subscribers of the Small Town Leadership email list. If you’d like to receive similar content and join me on the journey to making our BIG world feel like a smaller place, subscribe today at smalltownleadership.com.