Hang in There and Don’t Allow COVID-19 and Perfection Become the Enemies of Your Good Work
By Ervin (Earl) Cobb, CEO and Managing Partner, Richer Life, LLC
I know. We all are hoping that when things get back to normal, we will have maintained our level of success, stability, and sanity.
For most of us, professional and personal life has been quite challenging over the past eight months. But hang in there and remember that it took more than two years for things to get back to normal after the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Once vaccines were developed and the world’s population found a way to live with the influenza, national economies recovered, and prosperity blossomed.
However, until then, it is important for all of us [workers, leaders, and organizations] to also remember that there are times when uncontrollable circumstances will determine that doing our best is “good enough.” We should not allow our drive for perfection to become the enemy of both the individual and the collective good.
The goal must be for us to do all the things required, to the best level possible — based on available time, talent and resources — to ensure that we all reach the “other side of living with COVID-19” whole and ready for the prosperity to come.
Here are three things that I have been doing every day for the past few months to keep a check on my ability to achieve this goal.
1. I place an unsolicited call to each of my direct reports once a month. I use the call to do a quick health check [How are you doing both physically and mentally?] and allow them to have a few minutes of my time, one-on-one. Creating the opportunity not only keeps us closer during this time of “social distancing” but also extends the kind of professional empathy that builds trust. I never use this time to discuss specific business issues. However, what I gain from the tone of our conversation [What is said and not said.] can provide me some important insight into what I can do to become a better manager, leader, and person.
2. Once a month, I reach out to all the people I report to [or those that have a stake in what I am currently doing]. During these calls I give them a casual update on obvious performance limitations or impediments caused by the pandemic. I also highlight what I am doing to make sure the most critical items are always done on a timely basis. I make sure that I calmly share my current plan for addressing items that may be behind schedule.
This “comfort call” does two important things.
- It allows me to determine if my performance level under these uncontrollable circumstances is considered “good enough” and
- It creates an opportunity to learn and understand what changes I should make.
3. In my weekly schedule, I allocate time to spend with my family and those who need me. I consciously block out the time on my calendar and mark it as “a priority meeting.” Creating a way to maintain a healthy “work/life” balance is even more important during challenging times than when things are “normal”. These breaks can be perfect stress relievers. They can also provide the extra energy needed to focus and to do my best work.
Now, along with these three things, I also keep in mind that I must have confidence in my ability to:
- Do my job in the work environment that COVID-19 has created [I am not alone; everyone has this challenge].
- Be flexible and comfortable with some level of chaos and change [I have learned that change is the only constant in life]; and
- Effectively communicate upwards and downwards [It all starts with making the call].
So, hang in there and remember, don’t strive for perfection — just strive to be the best you.