The fact that I didn’t manage to write a single blog post for more than a month brought this topic to the table. To open the spring writing season with a decent confession and hope for improvement.
I have realized that I’m still much better in theory then in practice when it comes to some of the topics I’m writing about. Especially work-life balance. It was clear to me before that I’m not good at this, for sure, but it became so obvious that I actually suck!
When I started analyzing why that is the case, I figured out it’s still the same old problem – I think that the world is going to stop if I stop.
The first label that you can put on me is that I’m a micromanager. And it would be a fair initial comment and assumption. But, I’m actually not. That’s one of the things that I can claim because I have proof for it. If I recognize that colleagues or reports have a good grip on the topic, I’m taking only the helicopter view. There are more things that I’m not even interested in listening about, than the ones that I want to take deep participation in. This has always been my approach because I don’t like boring things. And micromanaging is extremely boring.
The second label is the one of ego-maniac. Here we come to the more-likely-to-be-the-case territory. Being a writer and business executive with a decent career, it would be ridiculous to claim that I don’t have a big ego. And yes – I want to be important and to talk in front of people and to be talked about. Of course, preferably in a good way. I would probably be quite a difficult person if my beginnings in both: writing and business, weren’t such ego killers. In writing I have passed through 4 years of being analyzed and criticized by many people during my studies, and in business – I started in ad agency where all clients were more creative and more competent then me. So, yes, my ego learned how to deal with it quite well. But, of course, you can modify you behavior but you can’t change your character. So, I’m very good today in taking negative feedback, but yes – I give myself more importance then what is probably the reality.
By being quite honest and harsh to myself I’m not trying to get the sympathy of readers. It’s again this mantra that I have that if I write it down and make it public I will have to do more to improve it.
On the other hand there is a positive label that I can put as well which is – respect. In many cases I run an extra mile and push myself over the limits because I want to show respect to colleagues that I’m working with or to my superiors – if they deserve it. Of course, one could tell that this is actually again about ME and what I think people expect from me, not what they expect in reality. But this would be only partly true. In many cases people actually appreciate that you have put some additional effort in order to respect their effort. Sometimes they just need you to be present. Sometimes they actually need your support and help and they are not 100% comfortable to ask. For many different reasons.
So how to improve and heal this syndrome? How to understand better that world is not going to stop if you stop?
Like every time when I talk about leadership, I can say it in this case as well: try it and expose yourself. There is no other way to crack this except if you try to let go. Of course, it’s better to do this in a safest possible environment and at the beginning with lower risk cases – not because of the result but because of the probability that you are actually going to do it. Because if we set ourselves to try new ways of behavior in high profile cases with big bets – there is a big chance that we are going to change our minds at the very last moment.
What I find helpful is making a list of all situations where you were stretched and you didn’t want to stop but the final result was nothing or close to nothing. You don’t have to share this horrifying list with anyone, but try to make it as honest as possible for yourself. Did you make that much of a difference by joining this meeting or contacting that customer? Was that business trip a game changer for the case you are running or was your e-mail enough? Is your team much stronger because you are there every time or will they become strong because you are not there every time?
Also, try to remember at least 3 situations where your tremendous effort had a totally useless outcome. If you think you can’t find at least 3 you are reading the wrong blog.
This is in a way like moving from a very hot sauna directly onto the snow of frozen lake. It’s so painful and it’s hard to put even a toe into the cold. But you are overheated and your body needs cooling. And sometimes it has to be very fast otherwise the heat can damage you. So you better jump in!
Of course, you can approach this issue from a bit different angle: meditation and yoga style. It might give some results as well. But I have no experience with it.
Cheers to jumping into the cold water for good reason! If it doesn’t kill you it’s quite healthy.