Why no one is really “fine”

When I was 35 weeks pregnant with twins, there was no hiding my discomfort and struggle. People would offer me their seats on the bus and empathetically offer to help me however they could. Having my struggle be so visible gave people the opportunity to help without feeling like they were offending me. 

There’s this illusion we have that most people at work are doing fine. They’re happy, excited about their projects, and leave work feeling fulfilled. They smile and look so put together. I tell people I’m fine all the time and most people respond the same way when you ask how things are going. I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re all fine.

Expect the truth is, many of us aren’t fine. 

Not because our lives are horrible and things are crumbling down on us (though that has been known to happen), but because we’re human. The human experience is literally going through the ups and downs of life. Sometimes we’re feeling annoyed at the never ending to-do list. Sometimes we’re stressed because we don’t feel like there’s enough time. Other times we’re excited and happy because we’re spending time with people we love.

Most of the time, we’re anything but fine.

I think it has something to do with our constant drive to grow and keep evolving. As kids, we don’t second guess our value, but as we get older and have more opinions on how life should be, we start questioning our worth. We push ourselves to grow and do hard things. Feeling that sense of accomplishment after we’ve done that hard thing feels amazing and makes us crave it even more.

But the uneasiness of doing the hard things is what creates so much stress and anxiety. Will I be able to do it? Can I handle the pressure? Will it work? What if I fail and everyone knows it? It can show up as mild resistance to what’s happening in your life or as extreme anxiety and fear.

It makes me think about those times when my struggles were visible. When I was 35 weeks pregnant and people would offer me their seat on the bus. Or when I broke down in my 1:1 and my manager let me verbally vomit and complain while empathetically listening. 

I wonder if we would be more compassionate with each other if people’s struggles were more visible. I wonder even more if we would be more open about sharing our struggles and allow others to help and support if what we were dealing with on the inside could be seen on the outside. 

Next time you are in a meeting, look around at the people in the room and remember that no one is fine. Some of them are doing amazing. Others are really struggling or just a little bit down, but almost no one is “fine.”

 We’re all going through something, trying to grow and cope with what life is throwing at us. You will be able to connect, support, and love MORE of the people around you by loving yourself more. It’s okay to not be fine and to love yourself anyways. It is the human experience.

 

Here I am at 35 weeks pregnant and feeling as uncomfortable as I looked 🙂 

Why managing a team is a waste of time

At some point in your career you were probably a great individual contributor that did so well you were given more responsibility and became a manager. But managing is such a waste of time. You have to stop managing and start leading.

What really is the difference between a manager and a leader?

A manager is someone that makes sure the team is moving forward. They remove obstacles while optimizing existing tools and processes. They teach their teams how to deliver results.

Being a manager looks like:

  • A very full schedule with little time to stop and think
  • A focus on employee performance and other people’s projects
  • Straddling your time to focus on delivering your projects while supporting your team 

Leaders are the ones that go first when they don’t know the “how.” Leaders have a vision and enable their team to figure out how to do it. They create a safe place that allows for failure to learn and grow.

Being a leader looks like:

  • Obsessing over the data to influence what the next step should be
  • Focusing on enabling employees to plow through the ambiguity
  • Driving results that are not perfect, but move the project forward in leaps and bounds

Humans are so greedy at wanting to know the “how” before they are willing to go all in on that big idea.

Take a step back and think about how you spent the last work week and answer the following questions:   

  1. What % of my time was spent updating reports and status updates?
  2. What did I learn last week? And what data do I have to back it up?
  3. What risk did I take and what did I learn from it?
  4. How did I inspire someone to move the needle?
  5. If I was leading the org, how would I be spending my time? What would I stop doing? What would I start doing?

Be the leader. Don’t wait until you are the senior team member. Start leading today. 

You got this.

Feeling overwhelmed with your never-ending to-do list? Check out my free online course on how to get more done.

Are you feeling stuck at work? It’s because you keep believing this.

Do you notice you make statements about your life that feels like you are just stating reality? It might sound like: 

  • I’m not a morning person
  • It’s so hard to work in this toxic environment
  • Being an introvert at work is hard
  • I’m so busy

We go around saying these things like we’re just reporting the weather. You can’t make it rain or make it sunny. The weather is what it is and there’s nothing we can do to control it.

The problem with believing these thoughts is that they aren’t going to help you move forward. You are just reinforcing and believing your own excuses. And when you state them as facts, often others will agree with you and validate your excuse even more.

But do you really want to keep enabling your excuses?

These statements are not facts. They’re your beliefs about your life.  

There’s no “morning person” club that you have to qualify for or a test that can prove you carry the gene of “morning.”

There’s no check list of a “toxic” environment. Many of us see “toxic” meaning different things. And we can’t statistically quantify the difficulty of the working environment.

We can’t scan someone and prove they have introverted genes and what authority figure decided it’s harder to be this way?  

We don’t agree on the standard for what’s too much, just right, and too little amounts of things on our to-do list.

You can keep telling yourself these thoughts and believing your own excuses, or you can stop acting like an emotional toddler and start calling yourself on your own lies.

You have to start by knowing what weather statement lies you keep telling yourself. To figure this out, write down the answers to questions like:

  • What do you believe about your life?
  • What do you believe about your job?
  • What lessons were you taught as a child?

Once you are clearer about the beliefs you have about yourself, try to be curious about them and look at how they are impacting your life. Write down answers for each belief to questions like:

  • How is this thought helping me?
  • How is this thought slowing me down?
  • If I believed the opposite, what would be different in my life?

I’m not saying you have to go and change all your beliefs about yourself, but I would strongly encourage you to evaluate them every now and again and decide on purpose what you want to keep believing.

Stop giving weather reports about your life. Stop believing your own excuses. Start deciding what you want to believe. The only thing holding you back are your excuses. 

You got this.

Want help figuring out what beliefs are keeping you stuck and how to let go of your excuses? Let’s jump on the phone and figure it out together. Sign up for free coaching HERE.

The real reason we struggle with work life balance

Recently I’ve had multiple clients ask for help because they are struggling with work life balance. They love the fast pace of Amazon, have a great team, get along with their manager, but they want to do it all and are starting to worry about getting burned out.

They know that working nights and weekends is not sustainable and is going to make them resent their job. But they also want to do all the things and really struggle saying no or pushing back on deadlines.

Knowing how to have work life balance is not really this issue. You literally already know how to turn off your computer, put your phone down, and walk away.

The real reason we struggle with work life balance is because we suck at honoring our commitments to ourselves.

Let’s say you decided you were going to work from 8 am – 6 pm, Monday – Friday and only check your email on your phone twice each night.

Escalations aside, leadership is not telling you to jump back online and finish your work. You are the one thinking all the tiny and sneaky thoughts. These tricky thoughts sound like:

  • I’m just going to check my email so I’ll be caught up in the morning.
  • It’s going to be so much easier to write this doc without distractions and over a glass of wine tonight.
  • I just need to send this one thing out before I forget.

These thoughts sound productive and like you are helping yourself, but they are exactly the reasons you struggle with having a balance of work and life.

NOT doing these things is literally how you create that balance, but at the same time, NOT doing these things often feels really uncomfortable.

If you’ve made a commitment to yourself, you have to start honoring it just as much as you would honor a deadline with your team. Each time you stick to your own commitment, you will start building that trust with yourself and it will get easier.

Coaching is the fastest way to learn how to do this because those thoughts that keep you from honoring your commitment to yourself are slippery. They sound so helpful that you need an external view to help you not just find them, but know how to deal with the discomfort of not responding to them.  

This is such an important skill to learn. It’s the key to being able to let your mind rest from work and actually enjoy the time away from the office without the guilt around what you “should” be doing. If you let yourself rest and take a break from thinking about work, it will also make you more productive and more efficient when you are at work.

When you trust yourself to stick to your non-working hours just as much as you trust yourself to hit your work deadlines, that’s when it really gets good.

You got this.

Want help figuring out how to have work life balance with your job? Let’s jump on the phone and get you started. Grab time on my calendar HERE.