Work/Life balance is a myth. I know, you don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. The myth of work/life balance is based on the lie/premise that you can control either. And the truth is that you can’t. The real secret is:
**turns head to see who’s watching**
Healthy boundaries are vital to living a complete, fulfilling life. What does that look like? Well, I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time studying to find that exact answer. For me, practicing healthy boundaries looks like flexibility, self-advocacy, knowing when to say no, asking for help when needed, not feeling guilty for making certain things a priority in your life….and I could go on forever. But the root of healthy boundaries, for me anyway, can be summed up in one compound word: self-awareness.
Do you know your triggers? your limits? your strengths? your areas of growth? your likes/dislikes? Do you know the why behind your likes & dislikes? Do you understand why you continue to react to certain situations in the same way? All of this, and more, constitutes self-awareness. And the path towards self-awareness looks different for everybody. One day, I’ll share my full journey with you, but for now I’ll just share the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
The more self-awareness you have, the better leader you are. How can you ask people to follow you if you don’t even know who they are following?
You cannot change what you are not willing to acknowledge. None of us are perfect, and we will never be. We all have areas where we can grow & improve. But that growth cannot happen if you/we refuse to acknowledge that it is needed.
Everything is a decision, including doing nothing at all. And every decision has a consequence, whether positive or negative. That is true for all parts of life, including personal growth.
Understanding how certain situations can act as a trigger for me allows me to be able to respond and not react. That is where my “super power” lies in how I handle situations in all aspects of life. Ask yourself “why does ______ usually cause me to ______?” Explore that question and sit with the answer. Talk it through with your therapist or a trusted friend. Do the work to become a better you. You’ll eventually arrive at, “_____ used to cause me to ______, but know I choose to ________ instead.”
Self-awareness is a continual process. You never arrive at a point where you are so self-aware that you no longer need to do the work. You are always changing, growing and evolving into a new person (or at least you should be). Therefore, you must continue to work the process.
I encourage each of you to focus the next phase of your leadership journey on learning & understanding yourself. I guarantee you it will be the best investment that you will ever make!!
Leadership during crisis is not something that they prepare you for in school. There’s no set of questions on the comprehensive or certification exams. There’s no manual. You just have to do it. My struggle right now is leading and being my usual transparent self. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. And in my opinion, I’m the last person anyone should be looking to for advice on how to deal with this new reality.
But maybe that’s exactly why I’m qualified to lead. Maybe my refusal to pretend that the sky is not falling in is exactly what draws people to me. Maybe my acknowledgement of the fact that I am barely hanging on by a thread is the honesty that people need to validate their own feelings about the situation. Maybe, just maybe, me feeling like a hot mess gives others the permission to also feel like a hot mess.
I know this one thing: together we can survive anything. The key word in that sentence is together. It will take all of us, acknowledging the truth of the moment and working to change this situation for the better. It will take all of us admitting that everything is not roses and sunshine. Only then, when we admit that our current systems may not be working, can we work together to find a better solution. Only then can move forward and try something new. If we can admit it’s not working, maybe we can have the courage to try something different without fear of failure. For we will all believe & know that we can continue to adjust as we move forward, together.
Life has been hectic. I’m sure that is an understatement for a lot of people. And it’s true. Life is hectic, until it isn’t. I’ve been thinking about that a lot more then usual lately, which by my standards really means I am thinking about it all of the time. Life is hectic, until it isn’t.
As a society, we stop frantically running around like chickens with our heads cut off for two primary reasons: (1) we choose to, or (2) we are forced to. In the last 4-5 months, most of us have been forced to stay indoors. For some, that has meant slowing down. For others, that has meant moving at break-neck speed from home instead of the office. For me, that has meant some hodge podge mixture of both. I’m usually always pretty good at boundaries sometimes. (please tell me you laughed at my poorly timed joke, lol). This time of quarantine has afforded me the opportunity to see how that affects my health and my family. There’s something about honest reflection that usually sparks some kind of change in people, or at least in me.
My biggest take-aways from this time are listed below, in the quickest way possible, as I have a family to get back to.
Nothing is more important than family. No meeting, email, idea, brainstorming session, etc. When my kids asks me to read a book with them or play a game of Candy Land, I stop and play Candy Land. When my hubby asks if I want to watch a movie of one of our recorded shows, I stop at watch the show. Spend time with the people you love while we have this amazing opportunity to do so.
If you’re not in good health, you can’t enjoy your family or anything else. I’ve always taken decent care of myself, but this time has allowed me to laser focus on making choices that allow me to make my physical AND mental health a priority. I’ve lost 15 pounds since my district closed it’s doors in early March, and I’ve gained a clarity that I haven’t had in a while. It’s quite amazing what fresh air, walks, runs, journaling, & unplugging can do for a person. Therapy doesn’t hurt either.
Life is too short to remain in boxes that other people have created for you. Boxes are traps. I’m reminded of when my boys were little. Like all toddlers, they loved boxes. They would sometimes climb in to play, and then cry when they couldn’t get out. I never helped them. Many people, especially my mother, thought that it was a cruel response. But I always sat near them, talking to them to keep them calm. I wanted them to learn problem solving. You got yourself into the box; you can get yourself out of the box. And that is exactly what I intend to do!
Hair is overrated. So are manicures. I mean, I already knew that, but boy is it apparent now. No one can even see me on most days of the week. It’s absolutely marvelous to know that getting off of the crazy train that focuses so heavily on appearances was the right decision.
Most people only care about your opinion if it is aligned with theirs. Don’t believe me? Just check your social media timeline. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to change the opinions of others who just want to (1) argue and/or (2) be right. Another free gem – Don’t waste your time or energy arguing with people who are committed to misunderstanding you.
Black women are not magical. I know, that’s probably controversial. I hate to be the one to say it. I am not magical. I am just incredibly tired, but I somehow find the strength to conquer the myriad of things that have tried to overwhelm me while doing so with grace & style.
It’s okay not to be okay. That was my favorite line in a Jessie J song years ago, and my 8th graders made fun of me for it. It’s true now more than ever. We are living in polarizing and sometimes scary times. It’s okay to need a break. It’s okay to unplug. It’s okay to get off the ride for a while. That is NOT quitting, and it is NOT failure.
Leadership is messy. There is no one perfect way to lead. There are many roads and paths to take. There are hard decisions that have to be made. In my humble opinion, the core of good leadership is a servant’s heart. As long as you are leading from a place of service to your community, it will all work out in the end.
Everything is political. There is literally nothing that happens in this country that isn’t political. Stop pretending that your silence is you “not wanting to be political” and admit that it is really you not wanting to be uncomfortable. It doesn’t make you a horrible person. It makes you human.
Love is an action, not a feeling. This is true in every area of life. This is true for every type of relationship in our lives. We should all aim to love well, to love often, and to love unconditionally.
Stay safe & be encouraged. We’re in this for the long haul.