Lessons From the Tank
by Joe Altieri
December 11th, 2023

Let’s Wrap It Up

If you’re a Spotify music listener, you know about their popular year-end wrap-up that breaks down and analyzes your listening habits over the past year into some micrometrics that are always entertaining. And even if you’re not a Spotify listener, you probably still know about the wrap-up because Spotify users are always quick to share their results all over social media. Although it’s of minor importance, people love this feature and look forward to it every year. I think that’s because there’s something so satisfying in pie-chart-type assessments. Evaluation is a good thing, but we often have an aversion to the deep dive because it might tell us something we don’t like or would rather not acknowledge. But now is the time!

As the year draws to a close, it’s prime time to don the analyst hat and dive into the highs and lows of the past twelve months. It’s that annual ritual of looking back to move forward (which is one of the few valid reasons for looking back at all.) It’s time to evaluate those successes and failures. It might sound cliché, but trust me, this ritual isn’t just about nostalgia; it’s your secret sauce for leveling up in the coming year.

Successes aren’t just trophies for the shelf—they’re proof that you’re doing something right. Take a victory lap for those achievements! Whether it’s hitting sales targets, launching a killer product, or fostering a phenomenal team culture, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate these wins because you’ve earned it.

But let’s be real—the failures are where the real lessons hide. They may sting, but they’re your boot camp for growth. Embrace them, dissect them, and extract the lessons they hold. Maybe a marketing campaign belly-flopped, or a product launch nosedived (this is one I have personal experience with to the tune of a six-figure loss). But instead of sweeping these under the rug, playing the blame game, or living in denial, face them head-on. These failures are your crash courses in resilience and innovation – not to mention great ways to increase both humility and wisdom, which you can never have too much of.

So, how do you get the most out of this process? Start by crunching those numbers. Dive into your metrics, KPIs, etc. Analyze trends to see what worked like a charm and what didn’t even make a dent. Then, talk with your teams to get those different perspectives on what exceeded expectations and what needs a makeover and why. Listen with an open mind and not a defensive posture. Team feedback is one of the most valuable metrics you have.

The goal of this process isn’t a pity party or a self-congratulatory parade. It’s about setting the stage for future success. Use these insights to craft your roadmap for the following year. Course-correct where needed, double down on what’s working and take those calculated risks, armed with the wisdom of your past triumphs and fumbles.

Remember, this isn’t a one-time thing. Make reflecting on the year a habit. Regular check-ins keep you agile and ready to pivot when needed. And remember, celebrating wins and learning from losses isn’t just for the workplace—it’s a life skill that will serve you well in every aspect of your life.

So, as you gear up for the holidays, take a moment to give your business (and your personal life) a year-end wrap-up. Pour that cup of coffee, kick your feet up, and give yourself the gift of hindsight. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.

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