Wednesday and Thursday I ran retrospectives on the year for small groups of entrepreneurs. We looked back over 2022 and answered questions about our life and how it’s progressing. I’m someone who is deeply reflective with a pile of journals that stretch back to when I was sixteen. I’ve found though, that reflecting through conversation with others brings different insights forward. I’m going to use today’s blog post to synthesize a couple of insights that emerged for me.

1) Strengths aren’t recognized as valuable or as strengths.

A group of questions that we reviewed was around identifying strengths and weaknesses. In both retrospectives, it was interesting to me to observe that people didn’t fully understand how powerful or positive their differences from others were.

They relied on them, but they would discount or overlook the benefits.

This in turn made me consider that I don’t fully utilize some of my own strengths. E.g. I’m a competent writer and unique idea generation is easy for me. I practice that strength here, in my blog, but I haven’t leveraged it in my business on a consistent basis.

2) Circumstances draw forth strengths.

In one of the reflections, someone noted that a specific context brought out their best. They needed someone to prompt them with good questions. Once they had a good question, they could develop an excellent answer with little effort.

This has left me wondering if there is a specific way of interacting with the world that will bring forth my best? I’ve noticed that novel challenges and travel both bring my mind to life and there may be something here that I should invest in.

3) It’s Common for Dissatisfaction With Business Outcomes To Pull Us Down

Many of the conversations I had were with people conflated business outcomes with being successful as a person. This is a huge problem that I struggle with. Like many entrepreneurs, I’m highly ambitious with high expectations. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it’s a demon on your back if your happiness is dependent on how many zeros are in your annual revenue compared to the next person. There are healthier outcomes to direct ambition and healthier measurements to make that both benefit productivity and well being. I saw good examples of this as well in our conversations.

4) Important Dimensions of Life Are Sometimes Linked

Part of the exercises was to review different aspects of our life according to positive psychology PERMA dimensions (Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.) One thing I noticed in myself and others was that categories were sometimes linked. For example, poor relationships would diminish positive emotions and feeling crappy would also harm relationships.

In myself, I found a strong link between meaning and achievement. Part of what I want to achieve is in service to others (meaningful.) These two categories rise and fall to some extent as a pair. Which is good for me, because it provides opportunities in two areas to make useful changes.

These four insights are fertile soil for me to consider in how I’ll change the direction of my energy and attention in 2023.

If you want to see what a little reflection could do for you, you can review the slides and some of the questions here:

Featured image is Selbstbetrachtung (self-reflection) pen and ink drawing by Alfred Kubin (c. 1901). Used under public domain.