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I’ve had a surprising number of conversations recently with people who are planning to move from one stage to the next – personally or in their business.

What usually comes with this is a sense that “I’ve never done this before.” So big disorientation and unsettledness.

Everything seems upside down.

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Sometimes you just gotta reboot.

This is often your first step in fixing a problem. The computer’s acting weird? Reboot. Your phone stopped working right? Reboot.

But that’s darned hard to do with an organization. What’s the difference?

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We tend to think of leadership as something you achieve, then you get to keep it forever. Or at least a long time.

But I’m a member of an amazing service organization, Rotary International, which has the practice of changing leadership every year. I’m signed up to be the president of the club for the 2023-24 year, and I’m starting to get my mind wrapped around the implications of that. And trying not to get stressed out about it.

But I’m keenly aware that I’m just a temporary seatholder in a long string of leaders, going back to 1977 for our club. It’s a humbling realization.

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It wasn’t in my plans for the week.But when I tested COVID positive, I had to push everything aside to let my body heal.

Fortunately, it only lasted a week and I wasn’t hospitalized. Just inconvenienced.

But as I was clearing my calendar and rescheduling activities, I learned some important things.

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The Great Resignation, or Great Reshuffling, or whatever you call it. I’m talking to a whole bunch of people who are re-prioritizing, re-examining, and re-thinking what their work is about.

It’s a major factor in how employees are making decisions right now.

Part of the problem is that everyone has their own priorities and sense of balance. More than ever, it really matters if you have small kids, elderly parents, or are thinking of buying a house when prices are going through the roof.

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This is the time of year when all your business newsletters are telling you to create a plan for the coming year. Which is perfect if you have a baseline to build from.

But what do you do when all your assumptions have been blown to shreds in the last two years? Regulations are constantly changing. Supply chains are massively broken. Employees are unreliable. Whole industries are restructuring.

Your foundation, my friends, is much deeper than that.

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As you call people back to the office, you may have a hard time figuring out how strongly to demand that everyone follows the same rules.

There are so many variables! Nature of job tasks, desire for people to connect face-to-face, costs, sanitizing requirements, and so on.

What it comes down to is this: You want to have enough flexibility so that everyone feels reasonably productive, comfortable and supported.

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You might think that today’s message is about reflecting on the year’s goals, and progress made. With what this year has thrown at us, I doubt that ANY of us are on progress with what we were thinking at the beginning of the year.

Either way ahead or way behind, perhaps out of business entirely.

In my case, I experienced a massive “pivot” this year, delivering a lot of services producing amazing Zoom events for clients. It’s been fun, but certainly not my business plan.

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We all want the turmoil to end. Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot which we don’t control right now.

A whole lot that NOBODY controls.

We’re searching for the “return to normal,” or perhaps the “new normal.” Which is fine, but it can be a bit of an illusion.

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As I mentioned last week David Peterson is the Director of Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google.

He mentioned a phrase which stuck with me: “There’s no learning in the comfort zone, and there’s no comfort in the learning zone.” Last week I talked about the first part, today I’d like to focus on the second.

Why does learning push you out of your comfort zone?

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