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 recently, and it resonated with me. I hope my boss (me) 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 me because I always try my best,
And the wisdom to know that I am a good person with a kind heart."
I am hard on myself, pushing every day to cram in every little thing and saying "yes" to requests when my plate is already full. Often, those "yes" answers are not in alignment with my priorities or heartfelt passion. Sometimes it was from feeling obligated, not wanting to let someone down, or I couldn't come with a reason to say "no."
My "yes" answers filled every day with teaching, consulting, coaching, facilitating, strategic planning, off-sites, art classes, training my dog, cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing, traveling, and 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 easy because every "yes," is also a "no" to something else. And that something else may be as simple as taking a break to take care of me.
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.
Layer two. My daily life's desire for perfection had every minute outside of my work, filled with more work.
Layer three. The drive with underlying high personal standards meant my boss (me) praised nothing about any work performed.
Layer four. My boss (again, me) hadn't given me a day off. For me, a day off would be taking no clients, doing no housework, no paperwork, no working out, no calls, and no writing for work.
Bottom line, even if we aren't the boss at work, we are the boss of ourselves. I discovered that my boss could change and shift how she treats me. I could treat myself better.
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 can I start doing now that will make an immediate change?
The Cure, but not Cured
My first step was to take an entire 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 considerable amount of work that wasn't in alignment with my goals.
Guess what? When I said "no," many opportunities to say "yes" to work I love opened up.
The cure is not complete. The boss can still be a bitch. But when the bitchy boss shows up, I remind her of the new rules to say "yes" to what is in alignment with my priorities and passions. Using kind words and then redirecting my energies.
So, my boss may still be a bitch, but she is working on improving.