John T. McCutcheon cartoonNearly 100 years ago, this John T. McCutcheon cartoon (known in his day as the “Dean of American Cartoonists”) showed the young New Year of 1905 chasing the old man of 1904 into the history books. The cycle of constant change takes one more turn.

A major theme underlying my books, workshops, our training and consulting services, and over a decade of writing The Leader Letter  is that personal and leadership growth is critical to dealing with change. A New Year is a predictable time of change and renewal. But changes in our personal and organizational lives often hit us with unpredictable force.

Step one is accepting the change, rather than wallowing and complaining. Change simply is what it is. Step two is flexing ourselves for the change to fuel our personal, team, or organizational growth. Life is constant, endless, and unpredictable change. Change is inevitable. Growth or misery is optional.

In the same era as this cartoon, James Allen, a 19th century British writer of inspirational self-help books and poetry, wrote As a Man Thinketh. In it he said, “Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

2014 stretches out ahead of us like a fertile garden. If we plant seeds of personal, team, and organization development, healthy leadership will grow in the year ahead.

Tomorrow we publish my December blog posts as the January issue of The Extraordinary Leader. It features pieces on coaching, strengths-based leadership development, focusing our leadership with emotional agility, the cascading effect of good and bad leaders, boosting employee engagement, assessing our effectiveness at giving and getting feedback, leadership lessons from Santa, looking back to focus ahead, and New Year’s thoughts.

Make this your year to get up and grow!

For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.