Lately, I have been struck by how many of my people are really struggling. Exhausted, unmotivated, worried… All of it, pervasive and chronic. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a long 18 months since the outset of the pandemic, and we have been swimming in a sea of uncertainty for far too long. No one does well with uncertainty. Not you, not me, not anyone. Yet, the struggle I am witnessing goes beyond what might be expected. This is not about COVID variants, remote work, or political divides. The struggle that I am witnessing runs deeper than all of that. I dare to call it existential. 

The Great Resignation is one glaring signal of what I think is happening. People—even the most successful leaders in business—are opting out of their pre-pandemic roles. Why? Well, we have spent a lot of time thinking and being over the last 18 months. Many of us have asked ourselves some hard questions during an incredibly vulnerable time for humanity…

What do I want my life to look like? 

What is truly important to me? 

Who do I want to be? 

And, as a result, I know my fair share of folks who have decided that the work they are doing simply isn’t worth doing any longer. The Great Realization is this: 

The lives we aspire to live are worth more to us than the benefits that our jobs provide. 

In this moment, there is widespread tension between the lives that we want to be living and the work that we are currently doing. And this tension is resulting in great suffering. That is what I am observing.

This reality poses a HUGE problem for business leaders, who are watching their people walk out of their virtual doors at—brace yourself for it—unprecedented rates. And, the knee-jerk reaction to a resignation notice is always the same. Throw money at the problem…counteroffer with a bigger salary, a better title, a shinier carrot. Let’s save everyone from the rigamarole, and abandon this practice. It doesn’t work. It never really did. Instead, I pose an alternative solution. 

Retaining talent mustn’t kick into high gear at GOODBYE. Alternatively, it must start at HELLO. Let’s get clear— 

To what extent does your business align with your people’s hopes and dreams for their lives? 

Not sure? Well, now is the time to figure it out. Go ahead and ask them, listen to their answers, and innovate accordingly. Your business has the potential of being a dream realizer, but it takes work. There are incredibly talented people out there, many of whom are actively looking for a place where they can do meaningful work in pursuit of living their best lives. Some of those folks may actually be your people. What will you do right now to keep them? 


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