On Monday I asked you to think about what you would do with your free time, specifically time you have gained as a result of delegating and developing your team. Your team could be at work or at home. The point is, what are you striving toward and what is it that you really need to be focused on that no one else can do?
Then I got an email from a woman business owner this week with two long, dense paragraphs detailing all the tasks, personal and professional, she handled that day. This included not eating until dinner time. I’m a pretty high energy person and I was exhausted just reading the list. No wonder her subject line read: Are you Ready to Quit? As a leader, working professional (first employee then entrepreneur) and single mom for most of my daughter’s childhood, I have been where she is. The difference is, I got to a point where it wasn’t sustainable. My head started to implode (migraines) and my body shouted at me to stop (fibroid gone beserk).
I am not judging her and how she is leading her life. We all make choices and what is right for someone else may not be right for me. At my low point 10 years ago, it became unsustainable for me and came out in my body through breakdown.
No matter how hard your striving mind is, your body never lies and knows what really works for you. It will give you many clues along the way, if you listen. If not, then it eventually blows up in inflammation – minor illness or full-blown disease. Or it comes out in your not making someone happy – your boss, your team, other stakeholders, your spouse, your kids. We like to think we are heroes and can handle it all. As an American, this is part of our cultural myth – the lone ranger who saves the day. This is outdated. Even if you CAN handle it all – SHOULD you? Do you NEED to? Is it a HEALTHY choice?
Someone may read her list and say – wow, aren’t women amazing at all they multi-task with family and work! I read it and had two reactions: Wow, I am so glad I am not there today. Why isn’t she delegating more? I don’t know any details about her life other than her business, the very long list of all she accomplished that day, and she is married with two young children. But I thought, couldn’t a number of those tasks have been delegated or deferred? It felt like a lot of running around from home, kids school, office, store, kids school, store, office, home. I wondered what kind of charge or payoff is she getting from this franeticness?
Here’s what I realized this week, freeing up my time requires that I am crystal clear about how I define success in holistic terms – how my business and life fit together. I often have to prioritize one against the other, in a given moment, day or week. When I asked myself why am I not getting to what “I need to” as often as I would like – a host of words surfaced: discipline, fear, self-sabotage, trust, confused. Ultimately it came down to managing my mind and myself to be more focused and accountable and to being willing to let go of control (a big one) and trusting others to handle things I don’t need to handle!
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