Earth, Wind & Fire

The 4 Elements

Problems at work often focus on elemental descriptions: I’m completely buried; I’m blown-away; this project is on fire; we’re totally under water. That may be a sign that we enjoy communing with nature, but probably not. When I start hearing these phrases, it’s a signal that people need to stop, even for a minute, and plan.

You say, “But I’m working my plan!” Ok. Is it working as you’d hoped? Did you want the plan to make you frazzled and inefficient and crabby? Was a feeling of persistent panic a benchmark of success? If not, your plan needs some revision.

When I ask clients who are in the maelstrom of busy-ness why they are so harried, they usually say, “It’s temporary.” There is a big event coming-up, a conference, three new projects with the same deadline, etc. This is usually followed by a justification that if they can just make it through this project, everything will be better. I believe them. I know their intention is that as soon as this round of mayhem subsides, they will get a good view on the situation and things will be easier. Unfortunately, the current situation somehow spreads into the next event, the next project, the next billing cycle… and the stress persists.

This is why you must plan. I don’t simply mean plan to have this project finished and net 30%. I mean plan the process, plan the measures of success, have a sense of how you want to feel about your work every day, and have indicators that show you when you are succeeding or when you are steering off-course and back into the pit of despair. A plan helps to shift your perspective on the elements:

Stop and think about your busy-ness and the circumstance burying you or keeping you under water. Does it help you feel good about your work? If it does, carry on. If it doesn’t, try a different kind of access to the elements, breathe some air into your lungs very slowly, and plan how you want to work today. Then hold that focus in your mind and body, smile as you find your groove, and do your good work from a more sustainable perspective.


More Posts

The Four-Year Plan

Making the most of a playful reminder that our work moves, grows, and is accomplished in cycles. “What’s our five-year plan?” It’s a common question. Planning, goal-setting, and communication are all part of good organizational operations. But when we focus on the handy number five, we miss an opportunity that is staring at us on

Leap Year – 2024

It’s February 2024 – the month that contains the leap day in this leap year. Leap year is the scrappy little work-around that keeps our calendars in sync with the seasons and gives us 366 rather than 365 days in our trip around the sun. If the label holds true, this is a good time for taking leaps,

My Theme for This Year

Fruitfulness. January 10, 2024 How are you faring in this second week of January? Recovered from the holiday? Avoided flu-like symptoms? I hope you are happy, well-rested, and healthy as we start 2024. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions for a new year, but I do love a good theme. A theme can influence my

Returning to Work

“Returning” to Work

Topic of the Moment: Returning to Work Many organizations are currently in the midst of “return to work” planning. After a year of a pandemic-related workarounds,  people are brainstorming about how to, once again, share space with colleagues and become liberated from endless hours on Zoom.  While it’s wonderful that we can have these discussions (three cheers for


Which traits make you happiest & most effective?

Download your Character Compass and reconnect to the things that bring more satisfaction and joy to your work.

Scroll to Top