Let Me Repeat the Question

Kevin Trokey on April 27, 2020

How are you holding up? No, really, how are you doing through all of this?

I was reminded by a good friend recently of the power of asking this question a second time. I love that we are all asking one another this first question more than ever before. I especially love that we are way more sincere when we do. I see this as one of the silver linings of this crisis, and something I hope we hold on to after it passes.

However, those on the receiving end most likely reply with an auto-pilot response, “I’m good” when first asked. If you are an inquiring mind, ask the follow-up question, and you will start to get a real answer. The responder will begin to open up.

For me, this is a stark reminder of how much of the time we are on auto-pilot, just kind of going through the motions. This is true whether we are the one asking or answering the question. It takes a more intentional effort to ask the second time, but when we do, it can change the conversation. The person on the receiving end realizes, “Wow, you do want to know.”

By asking the second question, you give two gifts. You give the gift of making it abundantly clear you genuinely care. You also give the gift of challenging the one you are asking to take a more honest self-inventory.

The second ask is powerful.

And now, give yourself this gift

Many of you are reading this blog on a Monday morning. You have probably been asking yourself this morning, “What do I need to accomplish this week?” I bet many of you have already created a way-too-long auto-pilot to-do list.

Most of you are kind of stupid competitive; I know how satisfying it is for you to check shit off that list (I may be able to relate a bit 😏). I also know how much you beat yourself up when there are unchecked items left on your list. You probably feel worse about those remaining items than you feel good about what you did accomplish.

Write yourself a permission slip and check it twice

We have to be more forgiving of one another and ourselves right now. We all have ridiculous new demands on our time and attention. Despite what we may tell ourselves, most of us just can’t be as productive as we were before the crisis. The crisis is consuming way too many mental calories, way more than we even realize.

Grab your auto-pilot list and ask yourself a second time, “What do I REALLY need to accomplish this week?” Take a more honest self-inventory when answering this time.

What is it on your list that will give you a meaningful sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed it? What will help you feel better mentally (and maybe even physically) because you moved it forward?

I challenge you to get your list down to those two or three items that are genuinely worthy of celebration. Give yourself permission to define their completion as a successful week and be sure to celebrate the crap out of accomplishing them at the end of the week.

Never before has taking an honest self-inventory been more critical than it is right now. Never before has it been more important for us to prioritize what we need to accomplish. I hope this is something else we hold on to after the crisis passes.

And share this same permission slip with your team. They need it too.

Be safe. Be smart. Be balanced. Be strong.

Topics: Leadership + Management, Team Development