What good can we make of this?

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“What good can we make of this?” That was my mother’s guide to life. It was her way to encapsulate in a few words the idea that it’s better for you to act than to allow life to happen to you.

She asked that question whenever I had one of those inevitable adolescent crises. She asked it when she got her cancer diagnosis. She wasn’t under any illusions that a magical cure would happen. Asking that question and finding new ways to act was her way of beating cancer. As she said many times, “Cancer may kill me, but it won’t beat me.”

I’ve used Mom’s question as a powerful guide in my own life. Today, when the world seems to be spinning out of control, you can use it too. Today, as a leader in this challenging new way of work, you can ask “What good can we make of this?”

The New World of Work

It happened all at once. One day, we were going to work and living our lives as we’d had for years. Suddenly, everything changed.

Today, we’re working in a world where dispersed work is the norm. People have new work rhythms and new challenges. Many of us are “making do.”

If you’re a leader, you have a special challenge. You’re the one who sets the tone and the pace for your team. You’re the one who must take the lead in finding a better way. It’s up to you to begin the search for ways to make good of this new world. What good can you make of this?

How Can You Accomplish the Mission in New and Better Ways?

Don’t simply try to recreate what you used to do in our new dispersed working environment. Look for the benefits hiding in the issues.

You may be able to improve your work efficiency by having people work at different times. Perhaps you can move a project through steps faster than you could when everyone worked in the same place at the same time.

Don’t try to do this all yourself. Your team members are bound to have some good ideas. Try them out. The best way to find what works is to try things, not try to plan them too much. What good can you make of this?

How Can You Care for Team Members in New and Better Ways?

One of your jobs as a leader is to help your team members succeed. There may be new ways to help them grow and develop. It seems to me that there are far more online learning opportunities than there were before the onset of the pandemic.

Because that virus and distancing happened so fast, many of your team members will be in different situations. Adapt your help to be as effective as possible. Some team members will have issues with childcare or with an inadequate workspace.  Some will have problems meshing their schedule with the schedules of other family members.

Find out what’s needed. Ask “How can I help you?” Do what you can. What good can you make of this?


There are opportunities in our new work challenges.

Dispersed working environments are the norm.

The sudden onset of the pandemic means many of your team members are “making do.”

Ask “How can we do better work?”

Ask “How can I help you?”

Do what you can.

Ask “What good can we make of this?”

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