Leadership 30-Day Challenges
The only person you can change is you, so start here!
The only person we can affect a change in behavior in is ourselves. We can’t force other people to change no matter how much we try. It may seem to work but somewhere in the future it usually falls apart and becomes very messy, in business and in personal relationships.
However, too often, when we try to change our own behavior or habits by making drastic or rapid changes we are faced with failure or disappointment. By focusing on one or two items during a 30-day challenge you will find that the changes are easier and more apt to stick around and become permanent.
Psychologist tell us that it can take from 18–254 days to develop a new habit with the average being 66 days so even if you choose to do any of these challenges it will take some discipline to continue it beyond the 30 days.
You can find it much more helpful and rewarding if you add some fun to the process because that allows you to inject humor and remove stress from the task at hand. Simple tool but it works great.
Below is a list of some suggested 30-day challenges for leaders. Some of them are personal while others are directly related to your role as a leader. It today’s hyper-connected world there is little separation between personal lives and work lives so balance is the key.
They are designed to stretch you and your leadership style, get you out of you comfort zone and empower you to grow and inspire others to grow. They may be simple; however, they can get very complex quickly depending on your company culture, regulatory environment or history but my suggestion is to find ways to adapt. If you are truly serious about want to make one of these changes, engage someone to be an accountability partner who you empower to participate and help in the process.
Hopefully you will think these are interesting. Most of these I have tried. In fact, maybe all of them and I won’t tell you I have been successful at all of them but they have allowed me to be more flexible, adaptable and empowered. You can inspire others if you are successful at the ones you elect to tackle.
1) (Personal) HUG one person a day. This can be employees, friends, even strangers, but be sure to maintain respect and dignity by engaging with them beforehand. Don’t force a hug. Now this may not be as easy as you think, despite the many benefits.
2) Let your people negotiate with you at least once a day. Empower your people to ask relevant questions and ask for some level of autonomy in their roles.
3) Mentor one new person within your company for 30 days. Select one person from your company and offer to mentor them for one month by meeting with them once a week for one hour. Give them latitude to ask you any question, personal or business, that is within reason. I suggest you then maintain the relationship via periodic check in’s during the remainder of the year. Make your choices random and make all the sessions private and transparent as possible.
4) Walk the floor of your office or plant for one hour each day. Get out of your office, get into every nook and cranny of your organization as possible. Ask people how their day is going, ask them about their family, be friendly, open and proactive. If someone gives you a suggestion, consider it and communicate back the results, even if it was not taken up.
5) Challenge your meeting schedules each day. Check your calendar and see what meetings are planned and be brutally honest about why anyone should attend it. If you have called for the meeting be sure there is an agenda with specific goals in mind and invite only the necessary people. Make sure there are no hidden agenda in any meeting regardless of who schedules it.
6) Encourage play at work and at home. As leaders, we often think that having fun is a waste of time but trust me, psychologist continue to point out that it is good for all levels to reduce stress and improve productivity. Offer a one hour game period each week for 4 weeks so people can participate if schedules allow them, but let them set the priority. Actively participate when you can so people get to know you on a more personal level. This takes some planning so keep that in mind. Keeps the mind fresh and agile.
7) Do 3 acts of random kindness each day. These should be for employees or strangers. Buy someone coffee behind you at Starbuck’s, congratulate someone at work for going above and beyond expectations, call someone who is home sick just to give the get well wishes. The only limit to this is your imagination, the only this is don’t be predictable, maintain integrity and be genuine & spontaneous whenever possible.
8) (Personal) At the end of your shower turn your water over to cold for 5–10 seconds. There is plenty of medical evidence that this contributes to your overall health and alertness. The seven results of this being talked about are as follows:
- Increased alertness
- Eased stress
- Lessened depression
- Improved circulation
- Stimulated metabolism & brown fat activity
- Sped up recovery of muscle soreness
- Enhanced skin and hair over time
I don’t know about you but I can always use a boost in the morning and this gives you a shot.
9) Photograph something during the day and post it on Instagram or Facebook. If you are fascinated with people, find the most interesting ones, go up to them and ask permission. Ask them questions about topics they may want to discuss with you. Share non-private snippets with the post. The hardest part of this one is the first one.
If your preference is landscapes then find out all you can about the location so you can share that information.
10) (Personal) Journal or write every day. I’ve been writing every day for years. I suggest journaling but it can also be a blog article, Facebook Post, Tweet or some other social media entry.
Start simple, every evening before you retire for the night, write down three things you are grateful for and three things that went well that day. Should take no more than 10 minutes.
The great thing is, if you write 250 words a day you have enough material for about 3–4 books a year. For me, this has allowed me to write one book and collaborate on 2 others. None of them are super sellers but they do get steady sales every month.
11) Dump the Negatives & Blame. This is by far the most difficult of the challenge on this list. In our all too negative world this becomes the standard by which we are all measured so simply put block all negative and blame related comments from your conversations for 30 days. Trust me you will stumble on this one, even now I still stumble occasionally, but you will find it liberating and your people will find it inspiring. If you are brave, empower your people to challenge you if you fall into this without cause.
12) (Personal) Read one book per month. Invest in your own knowledge and wisdom, read at least one book per month. My preferences are broad so I read business books, self-help books, historical references and even the classics. Personally, I love to read books that I can make notes in so that means either live published books or Kindle based volumes, however you can’t rule out audio books in today’s market.
The key is keeping up the pace. Statistics indicate that the average person in the US reads four books per year with some pretty wide variances by generations. The averages have dropped as much as 78% since 1978 and that is sad.
Now many people rely on the Internet for news or other writing which is not all bad unless you start believing everything you read on the internet. All reading must be done considering the context and with a critical thinking mindset. Without it you wind up falling into comfort zones or extremely biased groups you may identify with which makes your behavior more subjective than objective. The choice is yours.
13) (Personal) Exercise 30 minutes every other day. I struggle with this one. It is not the easiest thing to do but it will provide the more impact on your personal life. This tied together with a good diet will accomplish more to improve your appearance, productivity, and alertness than the others combined. I put it towards the end because of the difficulty in making it consistent.
14) Record at least 5 ideas per day for 30 days. Ideally our idea muscle needs to be exercised, like any other muscle. Do this for a month and you will become an idea machine. Make them relevant and without boundaries so you are not limited. That comes out during the evaluation of the ideas.
Don’t limit them to your business, write down ten ideas to help others and send the ideas to them with no strings attached. Keep your conversation general and offer them as suggestions. Let them make their own decisions about your ideas and never criticize them if they don’t adopt your idea. Don’t expect a response or any type of recovery and depending on what the idea relates to be prepared to accept criticism if it is in a personal area that they feel you may have intruded into.
This will make you an idea machine and a networking machine. You will meet people and create opportunities.
OK, this is a good number of challenges to start with. If you can even do one of these I guarantee your life will change.
In summary, don’t think of these thing as challenges. Think of them as beginnings and opportunities.
There are really a whole lot more opportunities to add to this list so consider this a sampling. If you are inspired by what works for you then teach others how to do it, don’t keep it a secret. Leadership is about building more and better leaders for the future!