Staying Focused on Growth

Mike Witzke McDonald Hopkins

Continuing the discussion on investing in your professional growth, today, we have Mike Witzke, a partner with McDonald Hopkins, a Cleveland-based law firm with more than 140 professionals. Mike is the Chair of the Estate Planning and Probate Practice Group and practices in numerous areas. He focuses on helping clients protect and transfer wealth efficiently, and he works with high net worth families, primarily business owners, physicians, and athletes. In this episode, Mike shares his thoughts on what growth means to him, and we discuss ways to stay focused on continual growth and self-improvement.

Key Points From This Episode

  • How to stay focused on your personal growth by setting up systems and habits.
  • Make growth a priority! Saying you don’t have time indicates that it’s not important to you.
  • By defining what you are trying to accomplish, you can plan the time you set aside for growth.
  • Growth isn’t linear, but Mike says you have to set specific goals in order to maintain progress.
  • Creating tangible milestones by breaking big goals into smaller parts and having an accountability partner.
  • Mike comments on the benefits of having a mentor younger than you if you’re over 45.
  • The importance of seeking out different perspectives and being open to honest feedback.
  • You need time with that feedback, says Mike, to allow it to percolate before taking what you need from it and taking action.
  • How COVID has presented an opportunity to use your extra time to work on these things.
  • Alex provides a recap of the episode, from carving time out and building habits to finding accountability and being open-minded.
  • Mike shares the final part of the puzzle, which is also the first step: commit to doing it!


[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow, and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.

[00:00:21] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Continuing the discussion on investing in your professional growth, today we have Mike Witzke, a partner with McDonald Hopkins, a Cleveland-based law firm with more than 140 professionals. Mike shares his thoughts on what growth means to him, and we discuss ways to stay focused on continual growth and self-improvement. I hope you all enjoy.

[00:00:47] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for connection builders.


[00:00:54] AD: Mike, welcome to the Branch Out podcast. I’m looking forward to this conversation today.

[00:00:58] MW: Well, thanks, Alex. It’s great to be here.

[00:01:00] AD: Absolutely. Again, appreciate you coming on and sharing some of your thoughts. I want to talk for a minute to our audience and to our listeners. We are in the middle of our investing in your professional growth series right now, and I’m really excited. The conversation that Mike and I are about to dive into is really finding ways to stay focused on your professional growth because we were just talking before we hit record here that I think all of us can agree that professional growth is important.

Especially if you’re listening to this podcast, I very much assume that you believe investing in your growth is important. If not, I hope we can change your mind in this process. But we say that and we know we want to do that but how do we stay focused? How do we make sure it’s actually happening? That’s really what we’re going to try to peel back today. Mike, I think my first question to you we can open up on is just how do you stay focused and really what do you have to do to make sure that is staying front of mind for you?

[00:01:48] MW: Well, Alex, I mean, that’s the hardest point. As you said, we all know that professional growth is important. We’ve got to continue to get better. But if we’re busy professionals, we’re easily to get sucked into client work and forget the fact that we have to go back and work on ourselves and work on the way we do things on a regular basis. I think the key to that is to set up systems and habits to get into that, whether that’s if you have a team that you work with, making sure that you’ve scheduled and you’ve blocked out time to go back toward personal growth. It’s not something you can just –

As we record this, it’s yearend, and everybody’s going to be talking about resolutions and goals for the coming year. But it can’t be an annual thing. You do it once a year. It’s something that you’ve got to block out time for. Have it on your calendar. Respect that time being blocked out. What else is screaming at you? I mean, we’re all confronted with emails and phone calls and texts asking for our time. But what’s most important is your own personal growth and skill set. If you don’t spend the time and block that out, you’re going to let other things creep in on it.

[00:03:06] AD: The last point you said there, what’s important is your personal professional growth. I want to hone into that. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Again, if you believe that’s important, which again I believe many of us and all of us listening to this podcast certainly do, but what happens is exactly as you said. Things will creep in there and the “I don’t have time” or “I haven’t gotten the ability” – I’ve said this on a bunch of other podcasts at this point – When you say “I don’t have time,” stop and just say to yourself, “It’s not a priority to me,” and maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t a priority to you, right? “I don’t have time to run to the dry cleaner.” Well, no. It’s actually not a priority to me to get to the dry cleaner because we’re in COVID, so I can dress casually more often. That’s a real priority issue.

Now, on the other side where I say, “Well, personal growth I just don’t have time,” well, then what I’m really saying is it’s not important to me. If you ask yourself that way, is that really true? Do you really feel that way, right?

[00:04:02] MW: Exactly. I think the key there is finding, blocking out time on a regular basis. I think you and I talked before we got started on the podcast today about how you every week have a list of things you want to accomplish. You block out time. For me, it’s typically Monday mornings are blocked out. I don’t have client meetings. I typically – I’m not taking calls or emails and I’m making sure like I know, okay, this week, this is what I have to get done and then I start blocking out the calendar if it’s not already in there as to this is when things have to take place. That way, you’re prepared for the week because if you don’t –

I mean, somebody once told me, “If you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you.” You have to make this planning a priority. In that blocking out, it can’t be just client time. It’s got to be, I think, on a regular basis, and whether that’s weekly or monthly or quarterly, you block out significant time to make sure you’re working on yourself. Not just working on everybody else’s problems but also focusing on those areas that you need to grow. I think we’re going to talk more about how do you identify those areas, but it’s something. It’s a habit that you have to get into. It’s not easy, and you need to make sure that you make it sacred, that time that you spend on that personal growth.

[00:05:24] AD: 100% agree with that. To recap here, so I need to make it a priority. I need to know it’s a priority. I need to force time into my schedule and create the right systems and habits that allow me that opportunity to have that space. But now, okay, I’ve carved that time out. What do I do? How do I know where to spend time and then how do I stay focused on the right things?

[00:05:45] MW: Yeah. Well, I mean, again, part of that comes down to how kind of you define this personal growth. What are you really trying to accomplish? Typically, growth is not a straight line from A to B, and so it often means you’re going to take risks and try new things, because if we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, obviously you know what that defines. You’ve got to have this kind of – It’s like working muscles. It’s something that you’ve got to work on a regular basis and realize that some days things that you try are not going to work. That doesn’t mean you go right back to doing what you did before, but that you go back to the drawing board and look at what are other ways that I can do this to make myself better and to give better client service? To be at the top of my game in whatever area that we specialize in.

[00:06:42] AD: I have to understand what I really mean when I say I want to grow. I have to sit down and ask myself, “How do I define that? What does that mean?” I’m a believer that growth can look different for everyone, and there are so many ways you can grow, and we all always have opportunities for growth. The question exactly, as you said, is to sit down. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to grow? What do I define? What’s important to me?” To be really clear to our listeners on this, if you want to be successful with that, you need space and time in your day to think and to really be able to organize those thoughts. That is not something you slide in 15 minutes between meetings to accomplish that. That is something that you carve out true white space, true open time that you can sit and think and reflect on that. I think that is such a powerful step in your professional growth and in starting that journey and getting kicked off.

Now, you say it’s not a straight line. I totally agree, right? Growth is it’s a wave. You’re up and down. There’s always changes, and that’s part of life. We go through seasons. Some are more difficult than others, but the goal is to constantly be progressing forward. Then your analogy around working muscles I think is so spot-on as well, but let me ask you. So I’m going down this this line that’s not straight, that’s up and down. It is like working muscles, and some days my muscles just do not feel like outputting the way that I think they should be outputting.

How do I deal with that? Because internally I’m feeling discouraged. Internally, I’m like, “I don’t even know if this is working. I don’t know if what I’m doing is getting me anywhere but I know that I have to keep going.” How do I find that? How do I find that kind of goal to keep focused and keep moving?

[00:08:11] MW: Well, I think part of that – I mean, I’m a runner, and some days you get out there, and your legs just feel like they’re full of cement, and you’re saying, “Well, what’s going on? What’s happening?” But to some extent, you got to trust the process. Number two, I think you got to have a goal. I mean, you have to have something that you’re going after. That’s what keeps us moving forward. If I know I’ve signed up and I’ve paid the money to run in a marathon or a half marathon in two months. I know, if I don’t put the work in, I’m not going to be able to finish that race.

You talked about having goals, and it’s not something that you can just sit down in 20 minutes and come up with a goal because often you talk to somebody and say, “Well, what do you really want to do?” “I want to make more money.” “Well, why do you want to make more money?” “Well, I want to travel with my family.” “Well, okay. Then now that’s something different.” You want to have time to travel with your family. You want to have the ability to travel with your family. Just if money was the only goal and the top goal, that may mean you have to work six days a week and 80 hours and all those sorts of things. But if the reality is you really want to have more time with your family, have that relationship, so I mean you really got to peel back that onion of what is really at the root of this growth.

That takes time, and it’s usually something that you can’t do it alone. You need others to bounce ideas off of. You need others to give you criticism, and nobody likes to hear somebody criticize them as to what’s going on. But if you’re just kind of continuing to do what you’re doing and listening to all those voices in your own head and not listening to those on the outside, that’s going to affect you. But really kind of focusing on what is the goal? And what is the time period to achieve that goal?

This year I want to accomplish this or this quarter I want to accomplish this. Why do I want to accomplish it? What is the root of that goal so that when you do stumble and you do have those down turns in your production, you can say, “Okay, this is important to me. I’m going to get up and I’m going to do it again tomorrow,” or next week or whatever that cycle is. Because if you don’t have a purpose, then it’s real easy to say, “I’m not doing this. This is dumb, it doesn’t make me feel good, and I’m going to do something else.” You got to trust that process.

[00:10:27] AD: Trust the process. Set a goal and stick to it. I like that. It’s easier said than done undoubtedly, right? The trust the process part I think is very fundamental in knowing that if you set a plan, if you intentionally sit down, build plans, and know that you’re on the right track like [inaudible 00:10:42]. Professional growth and fitness I think have a lot of parallels that we can tie to, and I think all of us can relate to fitness in one way or another, and we’ve all had our own fitness challenges. Some may look different, just like we’ve all had our own growth challenges.

They look different for people. But when you think about if I know that if I consistently run or consistently go to the gym or consistently ride my bike or whatever it is, if I consistently do that activity, and I get smart about tracking my performance, and making sure that I’m continually increasing the volume, and the stress that I’m pushing on my body, and my output is increasing, then I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Now, that’s easy in a fitness world. In a professional growth world, that can be harder. But the idea of set goals, set a process, follow it, and be consistent, and know you’re heading in the right way is so powerful. But let’s talk about this idea of being able to see it because so much of motivation, staying on track, and staying focused is about knowing that what I’m doing is working, right? At least for me, when I find myself losing motivation, falling out of track, I know my why. I know the motivation. I know what I’m trying to do. But ultimately, I’m like, “Man, this is just a lot of work, and nothing’s happening. What gives?” How do you overcome that? How do you keep yourself and make sure you’re starting to find ways to see that growth?

[00:11:59] MW: Well, I think, I mean, especially if you’ve got big goals for yourself, you got to cut them into pieces and say, “Okay, you know what? These are parts. These are my steps to get there.” I think that – So part of this, yeah, if you just say, “I want to run a mile at this speed.” After you’re close to it and you say, “This is ridiculous. I’ve been running all week and I’m still not there,” and then you give up. You’ve got to break it down into parts I think that are manageable and that you can kind of see that process.

I think part of it too I think we haven’t talked about but I think is real important is having somebody to be accountable to, having an accountability partner. I mean, you got to tell somebody that, “This is what I’m going to do and I promise I’m going to do it.” So it’s not just your hidden little secret as to what you want to do. We talked about, I think before the podcast, you and I, about a number of years ago I was part of a mastermind program of lawyers from all over the country, and they had a coaching program that they were doing that was quarterly. We would travel to a location somewhere in the country every quarter.

When this was announced, I remember talking to the guy that was leading it and saying, “There’s no way in heck. I don’t have the time.” You’re flying on Thursday. You were there Thursday afternoon, Friday, Saturday. You fly home Sunday. I said, “I don’t have the time to do this four times a year. Are you out of your mind?” But what I found from that by doing it, and I ended up doing it and spent the time and I spent the money, and it was so powerful because not only did it – We would break into these 90-day sprints where we knew in the next 90 days these were the tasks that we were going to perform, and it was everything from building our law practice to health goals that we had, to relationship goals we had with our children or our spouses. It really forced us to break things down. Here are the steps I’m going to take. I’ll never forget the first thing we had to write down. It was, “Here’s the first thing I’m going to do on Monday when I get back to start this goal.” It was a physical step that we had to take.

Then we also had to write down when we left, “Here’s what I promise to do. One thing I promise is going to happen by the next time we get together,” and they would pull those out. We had to turn them in, and they would pull them out at the beginning of the session. So this is what you promised to do. Did you do it? A lot of times, people say, “Well, no. I ended up not doing it.” But at least we had to account, and that was a strong motivator to get done what we promised to do. I think having accountability, having a purpose behind what you’re doing, and breaking those big goals into pieces so that you can see progress over time, because there is going to be setbacks.

[00:14:35] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.

[00:14:44] AD: You’re spot on. On the accountability front, I think the idea of having an accountability group, an accountability coach, having an external source to help you with that is so powerful. I will say to our listeners, we at Connection Builders are working on designing a version of that. If there is anyone listening right now that has some interest in it, I’d love to hear your thoughts around it. Feel free to reach out to me.

What I want to share, my thoughts on it at least, is I sit back and say – I can only speak from my own experience, but when it comes to accountability, it’s really easy to make goals to myself. I’m no different than anybody else. I make goals to myself. It’s really hard to hold myself to those goals, and the one tool that has been powerful is writing them down. In writing – I make a habit weekly. I make habits monthly. I have habits quarterly where I’m writing goals down, and I’m keeping track of that, and I’m tracking and monitoring my progress and my habits. So much of it comes down to writing it down, making it tangible, putting it in front of you.

All of that said, as great as those habits are, and as much as they have undoubtedly changed my life and my ability to stay focused on growth, and doing the things that are important to me, that outside accountability, there is no substitute for that. I very much do believe that there is so much power. It can be a formalized accountability group. It can be an accountability coach but it can also be as simple as someone you work with where you just say, “Hey, let’s grab a book and let’s read a book together. Let’s sit down and let’s promise that we’re going to read this book.” Well, it’s COVID now, so maybe we’re not grabbing coffee together, but, “When we can grab coffee again, we’re going to grab coffee once a month and we’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about what we read in this book.” Well, now you have a reason to read that book.

To your point, you signed up for a marathon that once you signed up, things happen. Life happens and you’re not going to hit every one of those goals. You might have signed up and still not been able to do it. Or you might say you’re going to do read a book and meet someone, and you might get through the first 10 pages, and life happened. That’s okay but it’s going to make a big difference when you start making those commitments and moving towards that.

I really believe you’ll find a better opportunity to get those things done, to really accomplish them when you start making those commitments to begin with and really setting yourself up where there is some outside force and accountability behind that.

[00:16:54] MW: I think sometimes it’s important too to think outside the box as to who you’re asking to be that accountability partner. It may not make sense to have somebody who’s your partner in business to be that accountability partner because the two of you are doing things in a certain way, and maybe you’ve always done it. But to have that outside influence, I think that somebody who’s looking for – Maybe it’s a customer. That might be a great opportunity or somebody who just can look at it from a different perspective.

I saw something online the other day I thought was really interesting. It was that everybody over 45 should have a mentor who is under 35, and that’s mentor, not mentee. Just because they needed to look at there’s a fundamental shift I think in thinking that’s happening right now. If you’re over 45, you’re maybe not tapped into that shift. The idea of finding someone who’s looking at things from a different perspective than yourself can often I think bring you insights and kind of maybe help you with breakthroughs to reach even higher levels of growth that you would have otherwise done. Again, thinking outside the box as to that accountability person is important as well.

[00:17:59] AD: I wholeheartedly agree on that and I’ll just share a personal example around this. Hopefully, my wife’s not listening to the episode. She’ll kill me on this. So personal accountability, right? As spouses, I think we can all – Anyone who has a spouse can relate to this. There’s things where you expect the other person to do something you want to kind of like hold them accountable. How does that really work? How does it really work when you try to hold someone close to you accountable for something, right? It doesn’t happen, and that’s, to your point – Not using a business partner as that or not using a work colleague that’s too close to you to really hold you accountable on stuff. Because if the person on the other side of the table can’t look you in the eye and say, “Mike, you said you were going to get this done. What’s going on like? You’ve told me three times in a row you were going to accomplish this and it’s not done. What’s the underlying issue?”

If someone can’t have that tough conversation, push you on it, where you feel obligated in some level of, “Okay. Well, I need to like talk through it.” If that doesn’t happen, then we’re missing the whole point of it. If someone says, “Well, did you get it done?” “Well, no. I didn’t get mine done either.” Well, then nothing comes out of it, right? I’ve seen that so many times where internal teams and organizations think that they’re creating accountability where everyone sits and talks about the projects they’re working on. But if someone doesn’t get it done, then it’s okay. You just move on. That doesn’t accomplish the goal. That’s not real accountability. To your point, make sure you’re really thinking about that.

Now, let’s talk more though on thinking outside the box on this because I completely agree with that. It doesn’t have to be someone that you would think is in that traditional position. Your point you made was around different perspective, different way of thinking. You were talking about the over 45, under 45, or under 30 that this kind of range where there is a new way of thinking. As a millennial generation, I wholeheartedly agree there is a new way of thinking coming in this world and there’s value in it. But let’s just talk more than just that perspective, just in general looking for different perspectives. How do you handle that? How do you look for that? How do you make sense of that?

[00:19:56] MW: Well, I mean, it’s difficult. I mean, you have to search it out, and nobody wants to have criticism. It’s very difficult sometimes to hear criticism and it may be even more difficult to hear from somebody who doesn’t do what you do. I’ve seen this because I’ve talked to a lot of our clients about after this is all done and what went well and what went bad, and nobody wants to criticize what you’ve done. They don’t want to make you feel bad. It’s so easy to say, “Oh. Well, you just don’t understand. It has to be done this way. Don’t you think we thought about other ways to do it?”

But if you block yourself out to that, and so you have to open yourself up and say, “Listen, I really want you to tell me the truth as to what you see here, what your thoughts are on this, and you got to be willing to listen.” Is all of it going to be usable and something that you’re going to build into you the way you practice? Probably not. But if we’re not open to new ideas, it’s very difficult to expand and grow. So you need to kind of think about who are your end users of whatever you’re doing. What are they really looking for? What are the questions that people are asking you over and over again in what you do? You need to just then look at, are there different ways that I could be doing things that is going to solve these problems that people have?

I mean, if you look at the things that have been so successful in terms of consumer products, I mean, it’s all new ways of finding out, and often it’s not what do they tell you they need but what they really need. That kind of goes to, again, you’ve got to listen to a lot of different views to find out what’s going to work for you but you’ve got to continue to listen.

[00:21:44] AD: So you have to listen. You have to be open. Your point of no one wants criticism, no one likes criticism, right? It’s a state of vulnerability. It’s a state of admitting that, “Okay, I could improve. I did something wrong. There’s room to be better.” I fully agree it’s a hard mindset. I think it’s an important mindset to always be seeking that and always say because I think there is always room for improvement, unless you’re perfect in every way, which I’m absolutely not, and I don’t believe any of us truly are. There’s always an opportunity to seek that out.

The key point there though, you have to be open-minded in hearing that. If you start answering with exactly as you said that, “Well, you just don’t understand,” or, “We just can’t do it that way,” or, “Well, no. Let me explain,” all of that’s defensiveness. To your point, not every bit of feedback is good feedback. There are going to be things that are shared with you that maybe just aren’t relevant, and that’s the hard part of feedback is you have to internalize. You have to think on it, reflect on it, listen to it, and really digest it. Then you figure out what you want to apply. What pieces do you want to take and create actionable change into your life for that?

But to listen, to get it, to hear it, and to have your clients or your peers or your superiors or anybody that you’re asking for feedback to really give you good, open, honest, genuine feedback, you have to take it without defending it. Because when you start, when you ask a client for feedback, or you ask a colleague for feedback, and they tell you something, you’re like, “Well, you just don’t get it.” Well, do you think they’re going to want to keep talking and do you think they’re going to give you more feedback in the future, right? Like, “Well, okay. Well, if you don’t want to hear what I have to say, then why did you ask me to begin with?”

I get that they may be sharing something that is wrong and something that is – I don’t even want to say wrong. They may be sharing a perspective that ultimately is moot because the way that you have to do something or there is a real dynamic that makes their perspective just not applicable in this situation. However, you have to hear it, listen to it, and not defend it and not argue it. Just hear it. Understand it. Ask more questions. Well, what if I told you the constraint I’m working with is X, Y, and Z? Would you view that differently, right? By having that type of a dialogue behind it, you’re really pulling out more insights that you can gain from it and turn that into, again, that actionable insight to really drive into, “Okay. Well, here’s an area I need to grow. Here’s an area I need to go look for opportunity, right?”

[00:24:03] MW: Yeah. I think sometimes you just need time with those ideas because it’s very easy, I think, sometimes, when you’re listening to somebody, you can be nodding and say, “Okay, great. Thank you. Thank you.” But in your mind, you’re saying, “Oh, that will never work. That will never work. That will never work.” I think that you’ve got to kind of find a way to capture that feedback, and then take it back, and almost kind of let it percolate and kind of look at it from different directions. You may not take exactly what they said and implement it in what you’re doing and in your growth strategy. But often by giving it sometime just to kind of resonate and to look at it from different ways, you may find bits of that.

But as you said, you got to listen and you got to ask them follow-up questions. Maybe that’s part of it. I think that’s a great idea of saying, “Well, what about one of the reasons that I’ve not done that before? What do you think about that?” And then just kind of having them hold on and then taking that back. So, you’ve got to capture it and then you’ve got to really spend some time. But again, it goes back to this is not something you can do in a 20-minute call or lunch with somebody. It’s got to be something where they’re prepared, you’re prepared, and then you’ve got something you’ve taken back and then have worked on a little bit after this conversation occurs.

[00:25:19] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle market professionals.

[00:25:27] AD: Your point around it takes time. I heard it in a couple of different directions. I want to make sure to unpack. One, to get the feedback to begin with, it takes time and it takes time, one, if you really want to ask good feedback questions. Prepare for the conversation. Write down some questions in your mind before you go in there. Prep. Think it through. Walk in there prepared. Don’t just shoot from the hip because it doesn’t work. Anyone who thinks they can shoot from the hip, and I’m a guy who thinks I can shoot from the hip all the time, and I realize I can’t, prepare yourself. Write things down, walk in, and be prepared.

Two, you get those ideas. Now, you need real time to think and process on it, and that’s time in two different ways. One, in the simple fact of having space, having open availability in your day to sit, reflect, think, and really process those thoughts and process them through and think and be able to say, “Okay. Well, this meant this and this meant that. So now, here’s the actions I can derive from that or here’s what I can ultimately derive from what was shared with me.” The power of thinking, the power finding that is so important.

But the other side of that that I think you hit on that’s really important, the duration that lapses between the initial conversation and periods in which you’re spending time thinking on it before you come to what that actionable decision might be, right? This is something I’ve absolutely learned in my life of the human brain is a wonderfully powerful tool and if you get a thought in the back of your mind and you just let it sit there and you resonate on it and you’ll find –

Here in Metro Detroit, we have this road that’s called Woodward, and it kind of runs diagonally from downtown Detroit. My office is a few miles north of it, and one of the things I do often when I have things I need to think on is I drive down Woodward and back. It’s just like a cruise, and I’m usually listening to music, and my head’s in a totally different place. But I’m like I can feel myself kind of thinking through stuff, and it’s amazing where, all of a sudden, later that day, I’m like, “Whoa, I just solved it.” It just comes to me, and you put the pieces together. You get this idea, and that happens because I had to give myself that time, that space, and let those events happen to do that.

That’s where I get challenged, and all of this we’re talking about professional growth and investing your growth. I think all too often we think, well, we have to sit down in front of a computer and be doing something productive all the time or else we’re not moving forward. That’s not true. It’s the opposite of that. We need some of that space away. We need that time away. When you start redefining what you’re trying to accomplish, we said early on that we sit down and ask ourselves what does this mean and what are we trying to do? Then we give ourselves permission to have that time and space. That’s when you really start seeing the results coming out of it.

[00:27:55] MW: I think that part of this is you’ve got to have a framework. You’ve got to have those goals and have them written down and really peel away the onion to that goal as to what really is the core of why is this important to me. Then you got to block out the time to do the work because if you don’t, we all have things. We have family. We have all kinds of activities going on. But, I guess, maybe part of this is, right now, maybe we do have a little more time. That time that we used to spend commuting, if we’re working from home now, there is that 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night that now is available.

Maybe this is an opportunity to take advantage of – the vaccine is out while we’re recording this, but I have a feeling that stay at home, people working from home, is probably something that’s going to continue long after COVID is done. We all have now maybe broken some patterns, and now we’ve got some room to build in new patterns. Maybe the takeaway is find some time that’s been created by all this and utilize that now, block it out, and use it for self-development. Because if you don’t take the time, you’re not going to reach those goals that you want to.

[00:29:13] AD: Mike, I couldn’t agree more. At the time this episode is airing, we will be in mid-January. I know this is the time of year when all of us are hopefully, especially 2021, we’re all ready to start a new year at this point. Let’s make this a good year by doing exactly that, by putting this time in.

I’m going to give a quick recap here, right? Again, we’re starting off 2021. We’re going into the year. What we need to do to keep growth a priority is, one, we have to stop and ask ourselves what are we trying to accomplish. What does growth really mean for us? The way that we do that is finding some time and some space, blocking out time to really invest in growth. To be doing that and the way we accomplish that is we have to have systems and habits in place that really allow us to carve that time out and make that happen.

We carve the time out. We build the habits. We sit down and ask ourselves why. What are we trying to accomplish? What does growth really mean for us? Then we create a framework for what we’re trying to accomplish. We lay our goals out, we slice our goals down into some smaller pieces that are more bite-sized, and we follow that framework. We trust the process but we have to understand that growth is not a straight line. It ebbs. It flows. It goes up. It goes down. It’s like building muscles. It’s not always going to feel like it’s working. You have to trust the process. You have to continue to push forward on that by sticking to the plan, sticking to the framework.

One way to make that successful is finding accountability, both internally by writing things down, creating yourself goals that you track and hold yourself accountable to, but also finding that outside accountability. We talked a lot about the value of accountability in finding, whether it be a paid coach or whether it be someone that’s outside of your organization or outside of your direct circle of influence, someone that can really sit down and ask you questions that you do feel some level of accountability to, and understanding that you have to be open to having that conversation. Put the time in. Put the effort in to make that happen.

Ultimately, no one wants to be criticized. None of us like to be criticized. It’s not something we enjoy. But if we want the good feedback, we want to really be able to grow and get that insight from other people, whether that be our accountability partners or those people that we work closely with, our clients, our colleagues, our superiors or those that report to us, we have to be open to that criticism. We have to be open-minded and ask questions, not be defensive, and really use that time and that space to understand. Then more importantly, just take time at the end to reflect on it, to think on it, both from the white space to really think but also the duration of time that lapses between the conversations so that’s ruminating in the back of your mind.

Mike, anything I missed there as kind of a quick summary of our conversation today?

[00:31:57] MW: No. I think that’s great and, I mean, the key is now to commit to doing it. That’s the starting point is that I am going to spend more time this coming year in personal development, and then you build from there. So the key, the first step is to commit.

[00:32:15] AD: On that, we end our shows with a call to action, and my call to action this week for our listeners; sometime in the next seven days, find the time. Find 30 minutes to clear space. Find someone that you want to ask to get feedback from. One, reach out to them and set up that meeting. Two, use the rest of that 30-minute time frame to write down the questions you want to ask and then go have that meeting. Go find the time to have that meeting. But sometime in the next week, make the time to clear the space, to create the framework for the questions, and to make the outreach, to get the process started. That’s the number one place. Just get that feedback, and it can be anyone. It can be a client. It can be someone you work with. Just think about who’s someone you interact with a lot and that you feel comfortable with sitting down with and having a conversation. Start there. It will go a long way.

Mike, I really appreciate you coming on the show. Appreciate your contribution here and sharing your thoughts. For our listeners, what’s a good way to get a hold of you? I assume LinkedIn. Any other good ways to get a hold of you?

[00:33:17] MW: LinkedIn. I’m on Twitter. My email address is just [email protected] but whatever’s easiest for folks. I’m always happy to chat and talk about personal development and goals. So, yeah, feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

[00:33:34] AD: Cool, awesome. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate your contribution to the show today and I enjoyed the conversation.


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