By Sam Sundstrom
New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite holiday. It’s a perfect time to reflect and reset. Given the very challenging 2020 we’ve all experienced, turning the calendar this year was especially bittersweet but welcome as we start a new, fresh chapter.
The Alliance of Channel Women’s January theme is “Setting Intentions for the New Year,” so I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and processes for a productive and great 2021.
Time is your most precious, limited and valuable resource. I frequently say that the only thing I need more of in life is time. Given that it is a finite resource, it is critically important to spend and invest your time on those areas where you personally and professionally will get the biggest return. Set your intentions by identifying the things that matter the most and concentrate on them. Do the same with your teams and partnerships. Our daily lives are filled with a constant stream of e-mails, meetings, social media and information, so you have to make a conscious effort to stay focused and productive.
Being intentional and setting intentions means being thoughtful and strategic in your approach and decisions — no matter the size or scope. We have many choices in life, and being intentional means making the right choices that will lead to your desired outcome. It’s important to develop and stick to a strategic plan for yourself and your teams. My team recently completed our 2021 Strategic Marketing Plan, and our intentions need to be aligned with that plan to keep us on course to hit our goals.
When looking at intentions from a group perspective, it is always a winning formula to assume others’ positive intentions. We have an awesome employee program at Lumen called “One Company, One Culture” to foster a healthy employee dynamic and excellent collaboration. One of the pillars of this program is assuming positive intent in every situation and conversation. Using this approach leads to strong working relationships, productive dialogue, good decisions, and outstanding outcomes.
I use the following five guiding principles to make sure I’m intentional in my decisions and journey:
- Focus on the things that matter most. The 5×5 rule is great wisdom here: “If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.”
- Write things down. I manage my life and time with lists. It keeps me focused, efficient and prioritized.
- Use the power of your ecosystem. Every great leader and decision-maker is surrounded by a team of diverse viewpoints and smart people.
- Be crystal clear about your intentions. Communication is key, and it’s always important to be honest upfront. Everyone appreciates honesty, brevity, transparency and trust.
- Be positive! Work towards a healthy, happy mind and “seeing the glass as half full” — finding opportunity in everything leads to excellent teamwork and results.
2021 is a brand-new year, and we have a choice right now of what we want to make of it. I am setting my intentions for this year to be focused, positive and flexible for whatever challenges might come my way. If there is one thing last year taught us, it is that even the best plans can be derailed by unforeseen issues we could have never predicted. When that happens, just pivot quickly, and move forward. We have also learned from 2020 that we are all in this together, so let’s set the shared intention to work together — with smiles on our faces — to make the most of our precious time.
About the Author
Sam Sundstrom is a Director of Marketing at Lumen Technologies and manages all things marketing for the Lumen Channel Partner Program. Sundstrom has been a male supporter and advocate of the Alliance of Channel Women for many years. He has extensive marketing and management experience in the direct and indirect channels in both business and consumer segments, having served in roles at three Fortune 200 companies plus a wireless Internet startup. Sundstrom resides in downtown Denver, enjoys traveling and spending time with his two adorable dogs, Ranger and Rebel.