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In March 2020, the world started falling apart for everyone. We didn’t realize it immediately, but a week of shutdown turned into a month, then into a year and more. Most of us haven’t returned to the “normal” of 2019 and probably never will.

Sometimes you plan to change, and sometimes it’s thrust upon you with no warning.

I find it remarkable how well we’ve survived so far. Sure, we had tremendous inconvenience and quite a few businesses and organizations were forced to shut down. Industries were brought to a halt.

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You’ve been working hard on this impending change. You worked out the kinks, and you figured out what order you need to talk to people. Managers first, then key employees, then key partners, then the broader population.

And you’ve been getting your mind around this for – what, three months now? Seems like it’s taken forever. But we’re almost ready to make the Big Announcement and move forward.

After screwing this up many times, I finally learned a lesson. And it’s very simple:

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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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