LEADING IN UNCERTAINTY: DECIDE WHAT TO START, STOP AND CONTINUE
This week’s blog was sparked by a conversation with a colleague, who shared with me how current events have encouraged her to reflect on some very big questions. “How truly happy was I with life before COVID?” “What assumptions did I make, that no longer hold true?” “What aspects of my life will I change when we’re through this?”
I’ve had similar reflections and it’s very likely you have too. In ways big and small, we’ve been jolted out of a hypnosis of sorts. While many yearn for life exactly as it was before, some of us are thinking about how to use this disruption to improve our lives, and the lives of others.
In years to come, it’s very likely that we will reflect on our lives BC and AC; before COVID and after COVID. The question is; why wait? We have an opportunity DC (during COVID), while everything is real and fresh, to think about what really matters to us and what doesn’t.
The reflection process below is based on simple, but important questions. I recommend you capture your responses in three columns; what you will start, stop and continue AC. I also recommend you repeat this exercise with your loved ones, and with your team. This will help you to create alignment and momentum with your most important stakeholders, now, and on the other side.
1. What did you take for granted BC that you won’t AC?
This question encourages us to pay attention to those things that have a disproportionate impact on our happiness and well-being. Very often, they’re simple and experiential, so we can fill our lives with lots of them as we move forward.
Perhaps it’s being able to visit family, even if we want to kill them shortly after. Maybe it’s going out for a nice meal, or a coffee with friends, or going to the gym. For me, eating breakfast at my favourite café, and watching my beloved Liverpool FC, are things I will never take for granted again.
Write your answers to this question in the “continue” column.
2. What did you value or prioritize BC that you won’t AC?
This question encourages us to pay attention to those things that have consumed our precious time, energy and money, for relatively little joy or meaning in return. Of course, these are the things that we will likely want to deprioritize on the other side.
My colleague reflected how much stuff she has that she doesn’t need or even use; a sentiment many of us can relate to. Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of activity in our lives, or the amount of time we spend on devices, or the number of hours that we spend at work.
Write your answers to this question in the “stop” column.
3. What have you learned DC that you can apply AC?
This question encourages us to pay attention to those things that can improve our lives on the other side. In some ways, it’s the most interesting and important question because it encourages us to grow and change toward the things that really matter.
Perhaps we’ve learned something about where we live, what work we do, the amount of time we spend working and the trade-offs these choices involve. Or perhaps we’ve realized the joy in family time to do a puzzle, or cooking a meal instead of eating out, or investing more actively in relationships, or scheduling more personal “free” time to simply relax.
For me, I’ve learned how effectively I can work from home, especially across multiple time zones. I’ve also learned the power of video-based engagement on topics of leadership; something that has given me more frequent interaction with stakeholders, without any travel at all.
Write your answers to this question in the “start” column.
Now, as you look back at all three columns, what are the insights you have? What’s the story you see unfolding? I hope this exercise will help you to improve the quality of your life, and those of your stakeholders, in a post-COVID world.
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