By J.P. Dahdah, Founder & CEO of Vantage
The end of the year is busy. Often filled with shopping and preparing for the holidays. But amidst the noise, I like to take time for reflection on the events and experiences that made a permanent mark on my path.
One of our core values at Vantage is “Thirst for Learning & Growth.” So taking time for reflection is an important habit to achieve continual lifelong learning. Taking a look back should not solely be about dwelling on the negative things we faced, simply to acknowledge that we experienced hardships or difficult challenges throughout the year. Instead, it should be a curious exploration of what challenged you and what you learned from those challenges. This is how we learn, gain insights, and make the appropriate adjustments we need to live a life worth living.
Additionally, this practice allows us to find space to celebrate the wins we’ve had over the past twelve months. It can serve as a healthy reminder of the accomplishments we achieved, which, in turn, helps validate the hard work and effort we spent to reach them.
As a leader, my year in review tends to focus more on evaluating the impact I had on the people I serve versus the corporate goals we set out to achieve. Does that mean I don’t care about achieving our annual goals? Not at all. It just means that I place a higher priority on people than profit or any other metric I measure.
Since founding Vantage over 17 years ago, this past year challenged me more as a leader than most. Sure, the effects of COVID-19 continued to play a role in the adversity I faced, but differently than that in 2020.
In 2020, my focus was on protecting my team’s health. This led to maintaining an extended work-from-home protocol that lasted well into 2021. It also included actively seeking ways to continue to serve our clients with excellence while prioritizing my employees’ mental, emotional, and physical health.
This year, my primary leadership challenge was managing the unintended consequences felt by our team from the external factors we were confronted with. Conversations in the workplace changed. They used to be saturated with discussions about our strategic plans and seeking innovative ways to improve our service offerings. But talk leaned heavily towards people’s beliefs about wearing masks, getting vaccinated, working from home, and wanting more flexible work hours. Our core values seemed to be challenged on a daily basis by external distractions, not circumstances inside our company’s walls.
I felt more misaligned with my team than ever. And for reasons completely out of my control. It’s one thing to be tested by low sales numbers, an ineffective marketing strategy, or operational bottlenecks. And as an entrepreneur, those are things I am accustomed to confronting. I would even go as far as to say I am comfortable dealing with and holding my team accountable to those factors. But the shift in team dynamics due to differing personal beliefs and priorities was something new.
Given these unusual and never experienced before circumstances, what did I do?
I went back to the basics. I realized that when a path takes me to uncharted territory, I have to find a way to create a common ground, something that feels familiar. A reset. It doesn’t have to mirror the past. It just has to be something to reconnect us, unify us, and bring us back to alignment. I talked to my team and maintained open communication for them to voice their concerns. The decision made was the best for everyone. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
During the pandemic, many have desired to “go back to normal.” That is an illusion. We live in constant change, and pretending the goal is to go back to the way things were is not only impractical, but impossible. That strategy is as effective as wanting to turn back time.
My intentional reflection this year taught me to live by my core value, which is to “Embrace Change.” Instead of seeing the external factors as problems to solve, I view them as opportunities from which to evolve. I am proud to share that I feel our team has shed our old skin and has returned to our newly acquired Vantage Headquarters with a renewed sense of purpose and connection heading into 2022.
Have you had a chance to reflect on the year? If so, what stood out to you? If not, I strongly suggest prioritizing some time to look back and take note. You may be surprised with what you discover.
And if part of your reflection focused on having a clearer path to financial security, but you don’t know how to get there, please contact us at 866-459-4580.