Perhaps you were like me back in your 20’s & 30’s practically killing yourself trying to complete the to-do list. Did you even believe it you tried hard enough, worked enough hours, and invested my blood, sweat and tears, it would happen.
Did you once believe there would be a day when you would have all of the to-do items on the list crossed off? In my imagination I could see the angels singing, the world come to a screeching halt, and the sun burst forth in all its glory in celebration of what I believed was the ultimate achievement.
It didn’t happen that way.
In fact it was a sobering realization that completing the to-do list was a myth that we had all bought into. A myth. What a letdown.
Here’s another myth. Busyness = success.
If you’re still living this myth, forgive me. What you read next may make you uncomfortable but please hang in there. The truths could be life changing.
I recently had a coaching engagement with Rachel, a talented leader in her late 30’s. Rachel shared she found a cancerous tumor six months after taking her new leadership role. The amount of responsibility Rachel has placed solely on her shoulders is overwhelming – even to an outsider like myself. It does not take a medical doctor to see that if Rachel doesn’t do something to relieve the pressure she has placed herself under, another tumor will eventually show up.
Roger is another corporate leader in his 40’s. He has been an integral part of his leadership team for almost two decades. When I first met Roger he spent a lot of time proudly explaining how he manages all of the pressure he is under. Roger explained that he is the only one who can do many of the tasks. Sadly, Roger had bought into the myth of completing that to-do list - hook, line and sinker. One look at him reveals what this myth has cost him: he is 50 pounds overweight, his adrenals are shot and cortisol is pumping through his body resulting in excessive inflammation. What will the total cost be for the holy grail of completing the “to-do” list? Still to be determined, but I know a ticking time bomb when I see one.
Do you see yourself in Rachel or Roger? I know I see lots of Rachels and Rogers. The myriad of health issues is the tip of the iceberg. I coach leaders whose marriages are failing. Leaders whose relationships with children are damaged due to the lack of time and attention. Leaders who are alone with no one to share their life with because they are married to their job. Leaders who lose their identity when the company is sold unexpectedly.
Time and time again, I see a growing level of unhappiness.
But here’s the thing: it – does – not – have – to – be – this – way.
A wise woman recently reminded me of the art of the being “self-full”. When we are selfish, we think only of ourselves. When we are selfless, we think only of others. When we are “self-full” we nourish ourselves so that we may nourish (a.k.a. lead) others.
Yes, even I have to be reminded from time to time. LOL
Let us each remind each other that we cannot drive change if our gas tank is empty.
Many of my clients have found relief in what I call Happiness Triggers. I encourage them to find small ways each day to bring a smile to their face, to re-energize, and invest in being “self-full”. Here is a short video to learn more:
You will be glad to know these happiness triggers work for many executives I coach. It makes them more aware of taking care of themselves. Small actions have big impact.
And guess what? The importance of the to-do list becomes balanced and they begin to see the truth behind the myth of busyness.
You can too.
Remember, I believe in you. The question is, do you?