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When my girls were little, they never stopped talking. In the moment it felt like auditory assault. In hindsight, though, I wish I’d listened more. Now, in teen and tween years, I must pull teeth to hear their thoughts.

2021 has been, for me, more toddler than teen. It’s been inundating us with musings and lessons. And this time I’ve been listening. I’ve sorted through a lot. And today I share the four most invaluable teachings I’ve taken from 2021; the lessons I believe we all must carry together into the new year.

1. We don’t find time. We make time.

It simply is time to call [insert profanity] on this one. We can no longer allow ourselves to say “I just can’t find the time for [insert ostensibly important thing we continue to devalue by not making the time for it].

Nobody who coaches, develops, imagines, researches, connects, or reflects finds the time. They make it. And it’s time for you to do the same.

I wrote recently about the essentialness of making time for participants in L+D programs to actually engage and practice what they’re learning.

This applies to anything you deem important – even if not urgent. And if you’re not willing to make the time for the thing, then accept the thing’s relative unimportance, and just move on.

Be crafty and efficient in how you make the time. But do make it.

And if you’re ready to mindfully make time for the things that matter in the long-run, let us know — we can help.

2. Silence is bad. But lip service is worse.

Well-intentioned leaders continue to say the right things.

  • We value Inclusion and Belonging
  • We want to hear your ideas and “dumb” questions
  • We value experimentation and failure.

And then their actions demonstrate the very opposite.

Leaders, it’s problematic not to address things like inclusion, innovation, and failure. But it’s deeply troubling to say things you don’t plan to back up. It sows mistrust, triggers, disengagement, and fuels that pesky Great Resignation.

Let’s commit, together, to say what we mean and really mean what we say.

3. Connection is a mindset, not a platform.

Human connection is one of the greatest inoculators against burnout and overwhelm. Leaders are focusing on it and that’s a wonderful thing.

But we’ve got to get this right.

Please do not mistake showing up on Zoom for true connection.

Connection comes from care, empathy, and being heard.

Be authentic. Be human. Reach out to people – with no agenda, no judgment.

See how people are faring, what has them anxious, excited, and curious. What they hope most for in the new year. And share of yourself as well. Reciprocity is part of the equation. Listen actively. They’re gifting you with insight.

4. We can power through. But not forever.

Humans have a natural resilience. We can carry more than we think we can.

Until we can’t.

I’m troubled by the number of people I’ve spoken with – across industries, functions, and levels – who are doing 2 or 3 full-time jobs now due to colleague attrition.

With no end in sight.

This is not sustainable. People are crashing and burning.

As you lose talent, you must deprioritize projects, tasks, initiatives. You must prioritize ruthlessly as you never have before.

Letting projects go – even for a bit – feels like a hard price to pay. But it pales in comparison to the burnout, poor health, and impending attrition hiding around the corner.

If this one felt like tough love, all I can say is “sorry, not sorry.” I’m just the messenger. Please take it all as insight – not a reprimand.

Looking for partnership in actioning any of these lessons in your organization? Please reach out for a chat.