What is Everyone Else Doing?

What is Everyone Else Doing?

Even in the best of times we all want to get a glimpse into how other people are living their lives.  It’s one of the things I love most about my work– I get to see how different organizations, teams and leaders navigate the complexities of life.  

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been listening for best practices, themes and lessons that feel important, not just for me, but also for other high-performing leaders.  My hope, in putting these together, is that you read something that makes you feel like you’re not the only one experiencing this.  And maybe you’ll make the smallest of adjustments that might help you be a better you for yourself, for your team and in your own life.  

1. Ask for what you need.  As one client tells her team, “My job as your manager is to get the most work out of you, so you have to speak up when it’s too much.”  Your manager is never going to say to you, “Hey you’ve been working so hard lately.  Why don’t you take the day off?”  Likewise, it is your responsibility to say when you’re at capacity, not your manager’s.  If you need something, stop long enough to figure out what that is and then make a request.

2. It’s ok if you’re not thinking about ‘what’s next.’  Most of my clients are high achievers and are always thinking about the next step.  A few still are, but many are too busy surviving to think past tomorrow.  We’re collectively in a cocoon. It’s a time for reflection, slowing down and being present to what’s happening right here, right now.  It’s hard to ‘think big’ when so much is uncertain.  

3. It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about feelings.  Yes, your team needs emotional support, but what if this feels like a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down?  What if you’re struggling or too busy delivering results to provide that kind of support?  If you don’t have the capacity or skills to do it, look to other resources either within your organization or look for a coach/facilitator to do it for you.  Two teams have asked me to facilitate a conversation to allow people to share experience, challenges and share ideas.

4. Stop judging yourself.  For feeling things.  For not feeling things.  For doing things.  For not doing things.  We all cope differently.  There is no right way to do this.  Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would give to someone you deeply care about.  Allow yourself to be human and to pay attention to what your energy is telling you.  

5. Find an alternative to willpower.  Like all of my high achieving clients, you are probably highly disciplined, fiercely determined and have pushed through tough times on sheer willpower.  But if this is your single tool, it’s probably not very effective right now.  Why?  Willpower is a finite resource and you’re using it up way faster than usual (see Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength for more).  You need a new tool.  Discernment.  You have to make choices, prioritize and focus your limited energy on what’s essential.  Ask yourself “what is the highest value for my time and energy right now?” 

6. Pay close attention to your own mental, physical and emotional health.  Most people are glued into their seats all day and, for the ones who have partners and/or kids, there is no break.  You close the door to your office and its endless demands straight into a system that needs more from you.  The demands are endless in a different way and the stakes feel unrealistically high.  It’s no wonder that you’re feeling trapped and worn down with no end in sight.  What do you need to have enough capacity to be there for others.  It’s not selfish – it’s necessary.  

7. Don’t try to make up for lower productivity with longer hours.  Let’s face it, most of us are just not as productive as we’re used to being.  First there is the ever-present buzz of anxiety in the background.  And then there are the meetings.  Just when you thought there couldn’t be more meetings, somehow there are now more meetings.  Throw in the constant interruptions of home life and it’s not surprising that productivity and focus are low.   More than a few clients have admitted that they are using after-hours to catch up on ‘real work.’  Instead, see #5 above. Relentlessly protect your time for the results that are most crucial.  Or you can do what a friend of mine does – he blocks off a couple of blocks during the week that say “Meeting with Barry.”  No one knows who Barry is and no one has bothered to ask.  

8. Delegate.  You feel bad even thinking about asking someone to do more, don’t you?  “But they’re stretched so thin already,” I hear you say.  If that’s not your excuse, I’m sure you have another one.  How do I know?  Because every leader, no matter how senior they are, will hang on to certain tasks because they have found a way to convince themselves that it can be no other way.  Time to re-think that.  It is your responsibility to be doing work that is commensurate with your knowledge and skill level, not tasks that someone 2 levels below you could be doing.  You also have a responsibility to develop your people.  You learned because someone was willing to let you take on something hard.  Time to return the favor.

Each one of us is faced with a different challenge right now, and yet there is so much to learn from how one another are finding ways to make it through.

If you want to talk more about any of this or you want to support your team virtually and want ideas, reach out at starla@starlasireno.com. I’d love to connect.


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Starla Sireno is an NYC-based Executive Leadership Coach. She has helped develop leaders in some of the most recognized organizations ranging from Fortune 500 to fast-growth technology companies. Starla has partnered with more than 500 leaders in over 60 organizations around the world. Inquire how you can work with Starla or her team.

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