Yesterday I wrote about Letting Go.
Why is it so hard to let go?
We live distracted.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and wanted to be elsewhere? (It's okay, it happens to me too.) Perhaps you've taken a trip from your house to a friends and not remembered how you got from A to B? (Forgive yourself. I've had that one too.) Plain and simple letting go is hard because we have WAY too much going on to stop and be in the moment. It doesn't help too that we have more than a few personal devices. (I have seven in total between the two iPhones - one for work, one for home, my Mac, my work PC, iPAD, and the two iIPODs I own.) It really doesn't help that I use some of these to wake me in the morning and that they all have alarms of some sort.
We have big egos.
Oh this is a touchy one. Yep, we don't let go because that means we're not winning. In our minds, "keeping on" means we are keeping up or keeping score. I liken this to the fight you might be having with your spouse or the polite one you're having at work with that co-worker who doesn't know the right answer. Women are notorious for these. Men are great at letting things go, but we gals love a good drama, eh? Plain and simple we all let our egos get in the way and end up spending emotional energy on the things that really don't matter. I'm very guilty of this one and could write a book on the battles I've fought because I couldn't get my ego in check.
What if we changed that?
What if we gave people our undivided attention?
What if we chose not to fight?
What if we surrendered it all?
People often ask me how I have come to know so many people in my career and how I've managed to withstand the fiercest political battles, build bridges and get organizations beyond pain and change. Before I even answer that I will say this. It's hard. It's the hardest work I've ever come across in my life. And it's the people in my life: my husband, my daughter, my parents and friends that have endured watching me grow through it. But it's because I've gone through some of my own battles that I've been able to apply the learnings to the ones I face daily.
Here are a few thoughts that emerge:
- See yourself as an ongoing work in progress. I learn from everyone, despite whether I agree with them or not. Every person you meet is an opportunity to learn. Some of my craziest bosses are people I admire now. (I say crazy because they were crazy...but really they are as human as you and I.) We're all on a journey and if you can learn to see others as opportunities to learn, you will make the pain of change much easier on yourself.
- Give your time and attention to others. People think working is about what you produce, when really it's about how you get along with the people you work with to produce outcomes and results. No one does the work alone. It takes a team. And when you know your team really well, what they individually love and hate, and what inspires them into action, you can influence and make awesome things happen. (And yes you don't even have to be THE leader.)
- Leaning back watching things unfold has a greater impact than responding, sometimes. I used to think conflict and in a constant state of activity was a great place to live. I picked up some of that from my sometimes-hectic and crazy childhood. Tension is healthy, as is debate, but letting things happen as they are supposed to is a strategy I've becoming more comfortable with in my career and life. And it's working.
What if we focused on what matters most?
If we focused on what matters most, we'd be happier. We'd be more productive. We'd live a meaningful life. That means sitting down, though, and defining it. As promised, yesterday, here's my list of what matters most. Do you have your list?
- My family and faith matters. My husband Mark, who's the opposite of me, completes me. We have a beautiful daughter, Ally who is the reason I fought to become a mom. Above everything - except for God, these two take the highest priority.
- I matter. I need to take care of myself. I need time alone, despite my nature to be around people. I need to eat, sleep and breathe well. I need to manage my energy through productive channels.
- Building relationships matters. Everything I do and everything I strive to do involves people. My friends keep me laughing and my colleagues encourage me to learn. This world is nothing without each of us and the contribution we bring.
- Writing and learning matters. It really wasn't until I started writing daily that I figured this out. My writing helps me focus. It helps me express my learning. It helps me come clean with my imperfections. (Yes, I'm a Type A with an ego and distractions!)
- Running matters. Really when I think about it, running or any form of physical activity matters. It clears my mind.
- Hands free matters. Memories matter. I am learning through this amazing book that I need to make more time to be mindful in what I do. All of the things above (family, faith, building relationships, writing and running) all give me the space to be in the moment....to be present. It takes practice. It takes saying no.
It takes letting my ego and distractions go to live what matters most.
Notice there are a few things intentionally missing: money, title, material possessions and work. I truly believe when I focus on the above, the non essentials come.
What matters to you? Have you written it down? I'd love to hear one or more. If you don't feel comfortable sharing here, share them with the people who matter most in your life. They need to hear or read it.