As an executive coach, I can honestly say I have never seen my clients so scattered.
Social distancing is melting the boundaries between home and work. Zipping from one Zoom call to the next while simultaneously tending to family has subsumed that much needed quiet time executives used to have on the train.
It’s no small thing to be missing those opportunities for self-reflection. It’s in those little stolen moments that leaders recommit to their roadmap and mentally prioritize. As home and work blur, they can lose sight of their goals and dreams.
Self-care is the new buzzword. But, business thought leaders President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Stephen Covey were talking about self-care for leaders decades ago. They just couched it as understanding the difference between what is urgent/non urgent versus what is important/non-important. Author, Greg McKeown, later put forth another similar concept: essentialism.
McKeown posited that there are essentialists and non-essentialists. Instead of living life, a non-essentialist lets life live them. They feel obligated to do things and often cave into the demands of others. In contrast, leaders who practice essentialism have a hold of the reins. They pick and choose activities based on what will help them achieve their purpose. They know where to focus and what to stop working on; indeed, what not even to begin working on. They have an uncanny ability to assess the trade-offs and make affirmative decisions that keep them on track. They are clear about what matters and have no qualms about cutting what does not.
Being a non-essentialist leader has a cumulative effect that has a way of catching up to you. Unless people speak up or act-up, the one decision they don’t make, yields multiple decisions to which they cannot back out of. It has a multiplier effect that is all consuming. You find yourself living with regrets because you are failing to accomplish what you want. Instead of feeling joy, you are overwhelmed and exhausted.
In the spirit of essentialism, I will keep my advice simple. One of my clients practices essentialism with his staff and he has put in place one underlying principle: Focus on making decisions that matter together as a team and the outcome will inherently be meaningful. In the age of Covid, executives have to make a concerted effort to set aside a few moments of time to check-in with themselves and their teams to remember what truly matters to business success.