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Complex agendas, unexpected events, doubts, choices and… healthy fittings!

January 25, 2022

By Carlota Ribeiro Ferreira

This might be well one of the most stressful topics to many people. Deal with busy schedules, the desire to be involved in everything and last-minute changes due to unexpected events that really need to be considered. 

No panic. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula, but some organization clues and unlocking tricks might be useful to have in mind. Needless to say, I’m not a master in the field, but I can share here a few things I’ve been learning through my life, especially because my professional activity requires rigorous planning, a lot of ability to accommodate details and manage unforeseen happenings, and also a lot of ability to go live, in a real live mode, in the right place and at the right time, with the right experience for the right audience.

Planning, preparation and organization are three basic principles. And why? Because the complexity and volatility of the environment will most likely call for real-time adjustments. But it’s easier to operate a change if we have a plan, ideally some scenario thinking and also contingency orientations. So, if we plan and prepare, our energy can be powerfully focused on adjusting, changing, and executing things well.

Discipline, presence and focus are three other decisive aspects for living our agenda wisely. Not only is this the only way to accommodate a greater number of initiatives, projects and relaxing, learning, or fun moments, but also to live and enjoy all of this more fully. Being present in the moment and cultivating focus and attention is indeed fundamental to a growing mindset, one that is able to learn and relate, and make the most of every moment on the agenda.

An alert at this point: we don’t have to be everywhere. And we don’t need to. And we must be attentive and assertive, and not give in to the temptation of thinking that we are essential in every situation. We are not.

What about our immense passions and everything we would like to do and everyone we would like to attend? That extreme week, full of everything, which we know from the start that it’s not doable, and at all sustainable, becoming very likely crazy, full of frustrations and emptiness… Well, here, in addition to having learned that we have to know how to say no more often, one of the best recommendations I’ve heard is the rule “it’s good enough”. 

Well, this is super important for the curious, generous and perfectionists. And also for those who are clearly mission oriented… All these characteristics are great, but I have learned that, generally, these people, if not tremendously pragmatic, quickly lose the healthy management of their agendas.

Tal Ben-Shahar came up with this “it’s good enough” rule when dealing with some struggles. And how does this work? Imagine someone who likes to run every day, be at the office at 7.30 am, work late, pick children at school, have dinner with family, read a book and go to a concert every week. Will this all fit in the agenda without breaking up with us? No. So, to assure a healthy conciliation of everything, we will have to make meaningful decisions – I would love to run every day, but it’s good enough if I do it three times a week; I would love to pick kids at school every day, but it’s good enough if I do it twice a week; I would love to go to a concert every week, but it’s good enough if I do it once a month, and so on, and so on, and so on. Being reasonable in our goals and in the way we achieve them has to be a sensible exercise, in which we respect ourselves, emotionally and physically.

“It’s good enough” is a really powerful tool.

But even so, there are always struggles – emotional and physical – and I firmly believe that in these cases, it is better to combine intuition with a model of analysis that helps us make decisions with more awareness, consistency, clarity and, of course, heart. 10-10-10 is a partner in life and career, believe me! 

This past week I had one of those needs. Preparing for a three-week work trip to Brazil, to where I’m leaving in two days, my youngest son receives wonderful news to participate in a competition he’s been looking forward to. Impossible not to be in this special moment of Sebastião’s life. On the other hand, this trip is also important for WIN World, there is an entire operation growing in a new market that we love, the agenda is intense and there are already many commitments. Should I delay my departure? Does the team on the ground feel comfortable managing works alone in the early days? What about the impression on clients if I ask for a change in plans right now? 10-10-10 is a transformative idea to help us in these kinds of situations. 

The process invites us to reflect on impacts in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. By doing this exercise, we delve into the options, analyze the practical and emotional consequences, on us, on our dearest, and on the various stakeholders. Suzy Welch is the author of this approach and as she so clearly puts it: “it’s about a steady discipline that can help us replace chaos with consistency, confusion with clarity, and perhaps best of all, guilt with not-guilt, or to use another word for that condition, joy”!

I believe that pandemics have given us new skills in agility, crisis management, hybrid models of life. Also, age, maturity and technology help us accommodate more things wisely, but let’s do it more wisely and healthily.

The good news in all of this is that we are always on the way to better lead the way, which is very promising.