In the midst of this crisis, the question on all of our minds is: “How can we stay focused on what we need to do at work?” when so many things are changing around us, many out of our control.

Here are two unique ways to optimize productivity and performance: 

  1. Focus on the “who” you want to be

It’s important not to focus solely on the “what” (the job, the money, the results, and the infinite number of tasks we all need to get done), but the “who” you want to be while doing it. 

Oftentimes, the “what” is beyond our control, which has become painfully evident during these turbulent times.  So, how do you get empowered even when things seem so out of your control? By focusing on the “who” you want to be –  identify your core values as the lens for your actions and intentions,  By clearly articulating and acting in alignment to your core values, you can be empowered, productive and fulfilled regardless of what’s happening around you.

Your core values anchor motivation. Pick three to five on this list that ground who you want to be:

AdventureCompassionGraceJoySensuality
AcceptanceContributionHarmonyKindnessStrength
AuthenticityCourageHumorLoveTranquility
BalanceExcellenceHonesty              PeaceVitality
BeautyFlexibilityIndependenceProsperityWisdom
ClarityFunIntegrityRelationshipOther?
CreativityGenerosityIntimacySelf-expression

Now, think about what those values look like for you on a day to day basis? What do they look like in your personal life and professional life?  How would you show up differently than you are now if you were living through the values you chose?

For example, several weeks ago I was feeling out of sorts in terms of where my company was heading, friends passing away and so much negative news at once. I took a step back and asked myself, “What are my values?” For me, it’s self-expression, contribution, courage and vitality are four core ones. That is who I am and how I want to show up in the world. When I re-connected to my authentic self – the who I wanted to be regardless of what I was handling, it put me back into action mode and into flow. This is what helps me get energized and take my power back. 

The bottom line is this: Even when everything around you feels confusing and chaotic, you can still feel fulfilled and feel like you’re succeeding.

  1. Clearly define your “Why”

Once you’ve established the “Who,” the next step is getting clear on your “Why.” What is your cause? What do you believe? What’s your deepest level purpose?  It’s tempting (and much easier) to just describe the “what” you do, but it only scratches the surface and doesn’t express what ignites you into action and inspiration. Simon Sinek has an excellent model for digging deep to get to  your “Why” called the Golden Circle.  He often uses the example of Apple, who powerfully describes themselves by their Why not their What. They describe themselves as:“We believe in challenging the status quo and doing things differently, rather than “we sell computers and phones.”

To help define your “Why,” use this madlib structure brainstorm:

To____[contribution]___so that ____[impact]____.  

Look back at your life and think about the consistent themes that come up – when you felt most “in the pocket” – what about those moments were so impactful?  What difference were you making and impact where you seeking to create?

Once you’ve articulated your Why, the next step is the “How,” which are the process/ways in which you deliver on your purpose? Using the example above, Apple’s “How” would be, “our products are beautifully designed and easy to use.”

The last step is the “What.” What do you do? This is the result and the proof. In the Apple example, the “what” is making computers.

Getting clear on your Why will give you a strong enough reason to follow through when you face challenges, help you nimbly pivot when your environment is rapidly changing, as well as feel fulfilled even on difficult days. This also prevents the fear from taking over. When you truly believe something is important, you will find a way to make it happen.

Want to increase motivation? Articulate the “who” you want to be. Want to innovate and inspire? Connect to your business “why.” This powerful combination is what will take your business to new heights.