The 4 Ls


A simple technique for reflection and continuous improvement – either by yourself or with your team.

AND I NEED THIS... WHY?

Default thinking is very comfortable, but we know that what got us here won't get us where we want to be in the future. In order to be a great leader, team member, parent, partner, etc., we need to envision the best version of ourselves and continually strive to become that person.

This play helps you free yourself of the things that no longer serve you and boost your sense of purpose. Try it on your own, or better yet, with your team!

WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED?

Any group of individuals who are working together, whether it be a group of direct reports, a project team, service team, social team, any team! This play also makes a great framework for personal reflection and growth. 

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Picture of a checklist and pencil
People

1 - 10

Time

60 min

Difficulty

Easy

Running the play

You'll need a clear head, and rid yourself of any tendency to rationalize things you don't actually like. If you're doing a remote session, share out the Trello template with the meeting invite so everyone has it handy for step 2. 

MATERIALS

 

Step

Set the stage (5 min)

As the team leader or facilitator, give the group a sense of what you are aiming to accomplish in this session.

Explain that 4 Ls is a great way to ensure you rid yourself and your team of any habits, activities or meetings that are no longer serving you so you can make space for new practices more suited to your growth. You'll also create a plan for turning your lessons learned into action. 

Step

Think back on the past quarter (5 min)

Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen (for remote teams try this Trello template for easy-sharing over video conference). Ask everyone to think back over the past quarter (3 months). One on side of the paper, give everyone 5 minutes to make a list of key events, milestones, achievements, and low moments, no need to categorize yet, just brain dump!

Step

Reflect on highs, lows, and opportunities (10 min)

Turn your paper over and fold it into four corners. Write "Loved," "Longed for," "Loathed" and "Learned" in each of the four corners. 

Give everyone 10 minutes to reflect independently with the following guidelines:

  • In the LOVED square, write down what you LOVED about YOU in the last quarter. This is what you should do MORE of. In fact, these things are probably your superpowers – the things you do 100x better than most. 
  • In the LONGED FOR square, write down what you needed but didn't get last quarter. List out anything you'd wished for, wanted to do, or hoped would have been given to you. 
  • In the LOATHED square, write all of the things that happened in the last three months that made life worse. Recall the days you thought would never end or the moments where things felt impossible. 
  • Last is the LEARNED corner. Write down things that you experimented with or tried, what you learned from doing it (even especially if it failed!), or simply lessons that came to you organically. 
TIP

After the session, share your lessons learned with as many peers, colleagues, and friends as possible. Take the LEARNT and tell as many of your peers, colleagues, and friends as possible. Ask them what they learned, too. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Step

Decide what to change this quarter (10 min)

The LONGED FOR and LOATHED are an equation. You can't add in a LONGED FOR (the thing you wished you'd had or done) until you've taken out a LOATHED. Why? Because you are full. Cognitive overload is real.

Give everyone 5-10 minutes, independently or in pairs, to decide what you'll remove from your LOATHED list this quarter and how you'll amplify your LOVED. If you've run the play before and have space to add a LONGED FOR, do that now as well. Keep your expectations realistic, though: 1-3 actions is probably plenty.

Step

Share your plan for this quarter and one LEARNED (10-20 min)

Go around the room and give everyone 1-2 minutes to share their plan and one item from their LEARNED corner. Make a commitment to hold each other accountable for your plans and agree on how you will check-in with each other (e.g., monthly coffees, a Slack channel, add it to a weekly meeting agenda).

Pick a date for your team's next 4L's, ideally in 3 months' time. 

TIP

If you're in a period of rapid change (like, more so than usual), consider running this play on a monthly basis. 

Nailed it?

Be sure to run a full Health Monitor session or checkpoint with your team to see if you're improving.

Find your Health Monitor

Variations

GO PAPERLESS

If you're doing this play remotely, substitute all paper and pen instructions with a Trello board. All participants will make their own Trello board by copying this template. 

Follow-ups

LEARNEDs should be shared with anyone and everyone who will listen. If your company has an internal blogging tool like Confluence, consider writing a summary of your team's LEARNEDs and sharing it with your friends and partner teams. 

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