Essential vs. Exhaustive

2 min –


It seems like almost every leader I speak with these days asks, at some point in our conversation: “How do I keep my team motivated and engaged as the pandemic, work-from-home, kids-at-home and everything that comes with that continues? I feel like I have tried everything and nothing’s working!

If you are feeling this way – trust me – you are not alone. No one has the magic answer; everyone is still struggling with how to manage through what feels like an unending period of change, complexity and uncertainty. There is no doubt that we keep having to adapt to more “new normals”. Yes, 2020 is in the rearview mirror, but it does feel like 2021 is offering up more of the same, doesn’t it? And noted futurists are predicting that we will see more change in the next two years than we have seen in the last ten – so fasten your seat belt and get ready!

When our environment is challenging, we operate under a heavy cognitive load. Recently, that’s come from new ways with work, family, health and safety, how we travel, shop, exercise – and more. When our brains are under this type of strain, we struggle to deal with big issues, problems or assignments. We can only take on so much because we no longer have the personal resources or mental capacity to deal with “just one more thing“.

So how do you take the next step? And how do you keep moving yourself and your team forward, and use the agency that we often forget we have?

Here is an approach that I believe can be very helpful. We all face unexpected situations, problems or issues – at home and at work. These don’t have to be major obstacles or some career-defining issues; they can just be something someone has brought to your attention to address. Instead of looking at each of these with a “this is a big deal and I need to fix it now” perspective, or creating a comprehensive action plan with a long list of to-dos, think: ESSENTIAL VS. EXHAUSTIVE.

What is one small step, one simple action you, your team or family member can take that will give direction, make progress, and enable you to feel some satisfaction in moving forward? The goal here is to act, not wait for the perfect solution; to do something – even if you don’t know exactly what the road ahead looks like. No one does. And that’s more than OK for now.

With your next disruption, where can you take a step that is ESSENTIAL – NOT EXHAUSTIVE?

Roberta A. LaPorte, Organizational Consultant

After spending 25 years leading Fortune 50 organizations and technology start-ups, Bobbie draws on positive psychology and her experience as a six-time Ironman triathlons finisher to help organizations navigate uncertainty and get ready for anything. Learn more »



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