Well, there went year two of pandemic living and we’re still figuring out how to stay focused, motivated and successful during times where we’re one turgid video call away from screaming uncontrollably just to see what reaction we get. So what can we do to change it up in 2022, which surely will be better than 2021, which was much better than 2020?
1. Accept the fact that today’s predicament will be over soon. As much as we have been drilled with the knowledge that the world will never go back to pre-pandemic levels of travel and physicality, our careers and our businesses will stagnate and likely lose effectiveness if we just give in to a world of soul-crushing video calls and allow ourselves to drift away on our islands of remoteness. This is a time to make more efforts than ever to stay in touch with friends, colleagues, clients, peers, etc. As much as you can, please make plans to meet with people physically when we get past the next (and hopefully final) weeks of this.
2. Keep relationships personal and less bloody awkward. Remember how great it was when you could have a candid conversation with someone? Seriously, not everything needs to be some turgid video conference call where we all stare at each other awkwardly, wondering if we should actually look into each others’ eyes or that light on our webcams. I still struggle with that one… moreover, what happened to the 1-1 conversation where we could just listen to each other and talk without others glomming on?
3. Park the ego – for good. Seriously, everyone’s fed up with egos. We all have them, but being able to keep them buried somewhere is more important than ever. Everyone’s so sick of people constantly trying to tell you how amazing they are because they clearly don’t hear it enough from others. Sorry to be blunt, but if you need to keep reassuring yourself openly about your own brilliance you may not be that brilliant…. That may have worked in pre-pandemic world where it was all about showboating at conferences, but those days are long gone. Now, this may be hard for some, but try praising others and they might even praise you back…
4. Be humble and get sh*t done. It’s incredible how many folks who were quiet as mice in the old world are now front and center of business activity. Why? Because the watchwords today are all about being solid collaborators, rolling your sleeves up, and actually doing stuff. I think we are all exhausted with the blowhards who talk a big game but never follow through on anything. So after a good conversation, follow up with the things that were promised, make sure you have an agenda for your next discussion, and show that you actually want to get things done. The days of lip service are well and truly done.
5. Stop working when you lose energy and focus – it’s imperative to work smarter now. This is happening to all of us – we’re so engrossed and glued into the multiple electronic discussion threads going on, we’re actually becoming really unproductive. I am as guilty of this as anyone! Nothing beats the uninterrupted time when you can execute on work that needs to be done, so when you find yourself flagging, needing a mental break, then take a f*cking break. Go work out, play with your dog or child, have a drink, go for a run or cycle ride… Trust me, burnout comes from an inability to switch off. Remember in the old days when you took a week or two off work and were able to clear your inbox in the morning when you returned to work? It’s even worse today when you can spend excruciating hours discussing things that could be decided in minutes if we all took a step back and worked smarter. At the end of the day, you will be judged on what you achieved for your firm, not how many hours you spent trying to achieve it.
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