I Work For a Bitch...And The Bitch Is Me
Have you ever heard of the “Other Serenity Prayer”? It came across Social Media in a number of my friends feeds last week and it resonated so much I want to share it here. I hope my bitch boss takes it to heart.
Other Serenity Prayer
“Please grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly,
The courage to forgive myself because I always try my best,
And the wisdom to know that I am a good person with a kind heart.”
We are so hard on ourselves, pushing every day to cram in every little thing. Saying “yes” to requests when our plate is already super full. Often those “yes” answers were fueled by something other than our heartfelt passion. Maybe we felt obligated. Or we didn’t want to let someone down. Or we just didn’t have a good reason come to mind to say “no.”
I am very guilty of saying “yes” for all of these reasons and more.
Teaching, consulting, coaching, facilitating, strategic planning, off-sites, art classes, training my service dog, cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing, traveling…the list kept growing. It took a co-instructor, during my favorite teaching opportunity, to stop me in my tracks. She asked me one powerful question, full of curiosity, “Why do you work so hard?”
At first, my response is because I LOVE the work! Working with emerging leaders as a leadership teacher or coach is my absolute passion. But there were aspects of daily life that were getting “yes” answers that didn’t fall into the passion category.
Why was I working so hard?
The answer to the question was not an easy one and some self-reflection was in order, because every single “yes,” is also a “no” to something else. And that something else may be as simple as taking a break.
Here is what I found as I tried to answer this deceptively simple question.
Layer one. I love teaching leadership and coaching emerging leaders. But I was saying “yes” to a lot of work that I didn’t love, such as Strategic Planning, developing strategic offsites, and running process improvement teams. These efforts had aspects of teaching leadership and coaching, but weren’t directly related to the work that filled me with passion. Since it is my business I get to decide what to take on or not.
Layer two, the desire for perfection in my daily life had every single minute outside of my work, filled with more work. This looked like a spotless house, working out for the “perfect” yet allusive body, perfect hobby, and on-and-on the list grew. It is my own ridiculous drive for what feels like perfection that adds onto to this list.
Layer three, stems from being driven with high personal standards, and it meant my boss (me) praised nothing about any of the work performed. My boss not only was piling on work and high expectations; she was not very nice to me. And yet, I am my own boss.
Layer four, my boss hadn’t given me a day off in over a year. A day off defined as no clients, no house work, no bills, no working out, no calls, and no writing for work. A day for pure fun hadn’t been allowed in over a year. A year! Wow! I work for a bitch!
She piles on the work.
She has very high expectations.
She doesn’t say nice things.
She doesn’t give any time off.
And the boss is me.
Bottom line, even if we aren’t the boss at work, we are the boss of ourselves. I discovered that my boss can change and shift how she treats me.
Here are some of the other questions I asked myself:
Am I treating myself the way I would want my boss or others to treat me?
What was I saying “no” to by saying “yes?”
What was driving my “yes” answers?
What would happy “yeses” look like?
What can I start doing now that will make an immediate change?
My first step was to take a complete day off. No housework. No calls. No computer for work. No emails for work. No self-improvement projects. Just one day spent doing what refilled me…and doing a lot of nothing. I even took a nap. Gasp!
Then I said “no” to a huge amount of work that wasn’t aligned to my goals. Guess what? When I said “no,” many opportunities to say “yes” to work I love opened up.
I am not cured….the boss can still be a bitch. But when the bitchy boss shows up I remind her how I would prefer to be treated. Using kind words and then redirecting my energies.
So, my boss, she may still be a bitch, but she is working on improving.