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Doing What’s Required

April 21, 2020

Over the last several years, I’ve noticed a softening in our culture.

Some of this is a good thing. Overall, we are more empathetic because we work harder to understand the people around us. We have made strides in many workplaces by showing people appreciation for what they do. We champion personality assessments that help us better understand and value the uniqueness of individuals. And we applaud one another for giving our best effort.

However, times like these highlight the harsh reality that sometimes doing our best isn’t enough.

Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that this blog is not meant to be an indictment or a criticism, but simply a reminder that what Winston Churchill said in the darkest days of World War II still rings true today:

“It’s not enough that we do what’s best. Sometimes, we have to do what’s required.”


As the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Churchill knew the future of western civilization rested on the Allied forces winning this war. He knew the stakes were high.

We are also living in a time when we cannot, and should not, settle for second best. 

Certainly this unique season requires grace. It requires empathy. It requires more understanding and flexibility—for our government leaders, for our customers and clients, for our coworkers, and even for our families and friends. But this crisis also requires all of us to pull up our bootstraps and do what must get done. 

In times of stress, it’s easy for us to feel like we’re doing our best when we’re really not. In reality, we’re allowing our circumstances to paralyze us. And we can’t allow that to happen now. This season is going to require all of us to get creative, to go beyond what’s comfortable, to learn new skills, and to do what it takes to keep our communities moving forward.

Many government officials, as well as global organizations, failed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis quickly enough. What’s done is done, and we’re going to social distance and do our part. But it’s appropriate that we hold others accountable to work to fix their mistakes and make all efforts to rectify the situation. 

We may also encounter situations in our work and our family where just “doing our best” is not enough. If you go to the grocery store and they are out of what you need, you don’t just throw your hands in the air and say “oh well.” Try a different store. Or get creative and try a new recipe with what they do have. You must do something. 

And at work, if you’re stretched for time to meet a deadline because of added pressures at home, communicate with your coworkers. There will be grace, but we also have to understand that some things are required of you. You have to make time later in the evenings to finish the project.

I’m not trying to be harsh. I just want to remind us of the reality that this is not a season where anyone will get a trophy for effort. We have to actually get things done, and I believe we will—together.


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