Work Life Separation

images

We get a quick note on the weekend.

“Sorry to bug you about work on a weekend, but I need…”

Or a text late at night.

“Hey, sorry, I know it is late, but can you send along…”

And there was an email early in the morning.

“Sorry, this is last-minute, but can you give us a call right away…”

These requests were simple. They took just a few moments of our time.

We enjoyed being able to respond. It didn’t even feel like work.

There was a time when we thought we needed work life separation.

There was a time when we thought this divide was important.

There was a time when work felt like work.

Over the past few years the work life separation wall has slowly been dismantled.

Brick by brick, the need to be distinct and have boundaries has faded away.

The work life separation wall has become a smeary, messy, blended tapestry.

30a535101222356fc1c98a2ef4eff251

When our work, and life is about helping others, both happen at interesting hours, times, and moments.

It doesn’t feel like work. It isn’t distinct from our life. It just is.

We live and work at weird hours when there is a need. There are no office hours.

We aren’t counting the days until we retire. We just live.

We live and work in various locations, and at various times.

We meet the needs around us throughout our entire journey.

There is no longer a need for the work life separation.

The absence of that artificial barrier sets us free.

 

Disqualified

 

Disqualified

You were not good at math. You were easily distracted. You got an F. You got more than one F. You lost your temper. You messed up. You lost the account. You didn’t get into college. You didn’t tell the whole story. You said the wrong thing. You didn’t lose the weight. You were a bad friend. You got fired. You spoiled the party. You quit the team. You stopped calling. You didn’t get science. You made the mistake. You struggled with[insert name here].

Sometimes events make us draw conclusions. We were not good at math therefore we will never be good at math. We spoiled the party, therefore we will always spoil the party, so we should not be invited. We quit the team, therefore we are a quitter. We struggle with a pattern of behavior, therefore we will never overcome.

But worse than giving up, we become disqualified.

Disqualified is when the past is allowed to remove you from future opportunities, growth, or development.

Disqualified is a limitation on our potential.

Disqualified is keeping us from making a difference.

Disqualified is when struggles keep you from helping others.

Disqualified is a lifetime ban.

But, maybe there is no Disqualified status.

Maybe we misunderstood the value of the journey, the struggle, and the failure.

Maybe the fact that we struggle, fail, quit, mess up, and lose are the very things that qualify us to make an impact.

Maybe others need to know that we struggle as well.

Maybe we can learn, grow, develop, and be.

Maybe the future is wide open.

Maybe we are qualified.

Home Planet

You meet.

You start to talk.

You try to explain some weirdness.

They nod.

They totally get it.

They totally get you.

You connect so quickly.

You feel so understood.

They speak as if in your native language.

They understand the perspective, the weirdness, and the challenges.

It is almost as if, as a good friend of mine says…

“They are from my Home Planet.”

They are out there.

You can find them.

They are from your Home Planet.

P.S. Remind them of their impact when you find them.

More Flexible, Less Fear

The other day someone asked me to describe my two biggest goals in life. Once I got over the “Hey, I thought this was going to be a casual conversation!” I spent some time thinking about my response.

The reply didn’t come right away, as my mind raced between what I wanted to do and/or achieve and what I wanted to leave behind or be remembered for…then it hit me.

Two simple goals:

1. Be more flexible.

2. Have less fear.

More Flexible. I have noticed something as we progress through life. We tend to become stiff and rigid. This can be physically, mentally, or emotionally. We don’t stretch as often. We stop trying new things. We want things a certain way. We believe certain things. We know we are right and are not afraid to express that view. We have history with others. We hold grudges.

This goal provides a simple reminder. Am I getting stuck? Am I getting stiff? Am I responding and being closed off to new ideas, new activities, or new adventures? Recently I have been trying Yoga as a way to become more flexible physically, and starting to read a variety of books, or articles that may challenge my strongly held opinions. I initially felt resistance to both, but in time, both are becoming more natural.

Less FearLife is pretty ironic. When I was younger with less resources, less experience, and less opportunity, there was little fear. As resources, experience, and opportunity have grown, so has a corresponding fear.

This goal is the other important reminder. What am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? What is the cost of not trying these new things? Having this conversation with myself or others helps move me from inaction to action.

I am glad they asked me about my two biggest goals.

Two simple goals.

More Flexible.

Less Fear.

These two goals have become a kind of mantra for me.

Simple enough to remember, yet effective enough to keep me moving.

Now the question is passed to you.

What are your two biggest goals in life?

We all look forward to your answer.

Reclaiming (y)our Life

Listening to people can be revealing. If you listen (really listen), people will tell you a lot about themselves. Listen to the story they are telling. Listen to the one that they may not know they are telling.

While connecting at a conference, a story came to light.

“Carl, glad to hear that all the girls are doing well, still hard to believe your kids are that old, because you are so much younger.”

During the same conversation, we began to talk about running. I extended an invite to run with our group later that day.

“I am running more, but I am so old compared to you guys. I could never keep up.”

And later that day.

“Since I am so much older, I don’t have the same energy I used to.”

The real story was pretty clear.

As the group run was finishing, this person was finishing their run (ironically we all finished at the same time) and we were all standing in the lobby. I had a choice. Should I let their story continue or was there an opportunity to engage in this storyline?

“You know I couldn’t help but notice how much of your dialogue is about your age, how old you are, especially compared to others.”

“Is it that obvious?”

We reviewed our earlier conversations and that pattern that was previously hidden from them became clear.

“I didn’t realize how many times I said it.”

“Why do you think you are so defined by your age?”

“I think that so much of my life was defined by the roles that I have played: spouse, parent, and professional, that now I feel that I am trying to reclaim my life.”

“What do you mean reclaiming your life?”

“There are few decades of my life that went by so fast, and I was so focused on others, that I lost myself.”

We continued to talk. I could relate to this feeling of losing yourself when the demands of life, work, family, and career are competing to define us. We also talked about the role that these words are playing in the current reality. How the focus on age, and being older in some ways is not helping. Those words are trying to create a new limiting definition.

We agreed on two things:

1. We would be more aware of any self-limiting dialogue.

2. We would continue this journey of reclaiming our life and check in once in a while on the progress.

As we were about to part ways, I couldn’t help but ask one more question.

“How old are you anyway?”

It turns out that their perception of some vast age gap between us, was only four years.

Here are a few pieces of advice.

1. Listen. Listen to those around you, and your own words. How are you shaping your future reality by the word you use? What stories are you and others really telling?

2. Reclaim. Identify areas where you need to reclaim your life. What are those things that you had hoped to do, but your roles got in the way?

Keep me/us posted on your progress either in the comments section or via email on the contact me page.

(P.S. Just last night I read this story which may help all of us realize what is still possible, despite our age. And I thought running into our 80’s was possible…)

Running into our 80’s

I am a runner.

Sometimes my narrator tries to convince me that I am someone who used to run, or someone who just runs now and then.

Sometimes when I tell other people I run, they try to convince me that running will ruin my knees.

Sometimes I wonder if I will injure myself again.

Sometimes I think about giving up, and slowing down.

Sometimes fear creeps in.

But,

Maybe it is each and every choice to run that makes me a runner.

Maybe my voice can override those other voices.

Maybe it is lack of activity that also ruins knees.

Maybe I could listen to the orthopedic doctor who said I would be running into my 80’s with the right plan.

Maybe my miles will decrease, but my activity will remain.

Maybe learning to dance with fear is better in the long run.

Where have you been convinced that you should give up, slow down, and stop “running”?

Where has the fear or the voices told you that it is too late?

Perhaps we could all be running into our 80’s.

Perhaps you could be [insert your activity, goal, or dream here] into your 80’s.

I Will Be There Someday

long-stairs-225x300

(Image Courtesy of Angryjogger.com)

Coaching someone is an interesting adventure. You are trying to help someone develop themselves, establish and accomplish their goals, and encourage them when the journey becomes difficult. A typical coaching session includes checking in and checking up on any progress since the last session.

Progress can be slow.

Progress can be hard.

Progress is about making a repeated effort, over and over again.

Having someone else check in with you can be helpful.

Having someone else check in with you can be frustrating.

Sometimes there is great progress.  Sometimes progress is slow. Sometimes obstacles get in the way. When checking in, you can sense when progress has been slow by the tension during the meeting. There is a quiet hesitation as you begin to ask questions.

When frustration builds, answers sort of blurt out.

“I will be there someday…”

Those words told a story. A story of frustration at how steep the journey had become. A story where each subsequent step was harder than the last. A story that felt endless when trying to envision the top of those stairs when standing at the bottom.

Those words told another story. A story with a little hope. A story that needed to rest between steps. A story that needed to remember to occasionally look back, and see that each step was one step closer to the top. A story that despite the hardship, still believed that “I will be there someday.”

Where has your journey become steep? Where has the progress slowed or stopped?

Maybe today is a good day to remind yourself to take that next step, and remember that YOU will be there someday.