Every year on February 2nd, millions of people celebrate Groundhog Day, a predominantly North American holiday that holds meaning in the culture’s folklore. Here in Canada, there are over ten different rodents tasked with poking their heads up, I suppose, recognizing the different climates from coast to coast.
On this day, forecasts are made based on whether or not a groundhog sees its shadow and determines when spring will come. It makes me smile to think that many leaders today wish they could poke their heads up and forecast when their corporate “winter” will end and a new season will begin.
In the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ each morning Bill Murray’s character wakes up, it’s always February 2nd. He finds himself in a time loop, and the day keeps repeating. This sense of repeat can be what many leaders feel, especially in February, as the cyclical season of your work or ministry clicks in to keep the momentum going. It is often a time of the year for conferences and trade shows, year after year. Some days, no matter how hard we work, it feels like we are just going through the motions and not making much progress. You wake up to repeat the same tasks over and over again, with little visible change or tangible impact on the organization.
But there is one thing that the character in Groundhog Day does differently. With the repeat comes an opportunity to learn: each time he wakes up, Bill Murray’s character puts what he learned from before into practice in order to make progress.
In a way, leaders can use repetition as a learning opportunity and use it to forecast the future. They can take stock of what has happened in the past, learn from it, and make changes that will benefit them. As my mentor, Bobb Biehl, taught me years ago, “Confidence is a byproduct of predictability.” Taking the time to reflect and remember what has happened in past situations builds our confidence in how things will turn out this time or this year. This is something that younger leaders lack, the ability to predict what will happen next, and it is something that senior leaders can share.
Ultimately, repeat is both a challenge and an opportunity for leaders. Just as Shubenacadie Sam or Punxsutawney Phil must repeat their journey out of hibernation every February 2nd, leaders must repeat their daily tasks in order to reach the end of winter and experience growth.
With repeat comes an opportunity to learn and grow – something that all leaders should take advantage of. With repeat comes confidence and the potential for success — and after a long winter, who doesn’t want a little bit of sunshine?
Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! May your repeat be full of learning and growth.