Last year, after being in a new role at work for a few months I spent a week sitting in a conference room somewhere in the Midwest learning about Leadership. A few days into the event we embarked on a unit about development and the woman who was facilitating the course asked the crowd which skills are more important to develop — your strengths or your weaknesses.
My mind instantly went to my weaknesses: I’m not a good listener (I should work on that!), I can be a little bossy (add it to the list!), my enthusiasm for life can make me look a little bit spastic sometimes (tone it down a little!), my ability to adapt and be flexible can make me seem wishy-washy (this list is getting longer by the minute.)
Her response actually shocked me a little:
I had never looked at the strength/weakness dichotomy in quite that way, and somewhere in that discussion a light bulb went off: In work and in life we are not responsible for DOING everything that shows up on our plates, what we are responsible for is ensuring everything there GETS DONE. Simple, but profound. And man, does that philosophy make a difference.
As a goal-oriented person, my tendency is to want to push for proficiency in every possible area. If I can’t do something at CrossFit I want to work on it until I get better. I want to be a career woman, but also have a clean awesomely decorated house, throw great parties, eat healthy meals, keep my partner interested, stay in touch with my family, be a great friend, and own the cutest most well-behaved dog on a the planet who never gets sick and plays eager fetch with Spiderman toys all the time because that’s what he’d prefer. I do this in all parts of my life, frankly.
But I think I’m finally learning to let go of that a bit, and honestly, I feel a huge sense of relief.
It’s not perfect, but I’ve changed up a few things:
*I’ve outsourced the cleaning of my house (BEST DECISION OF MY ADULT LIFE)
*I’m still doing a weekly cook up, but a shorter one. Then cooking twice per week and making some simpler meals
*I’m working out in the mornings. Not because I love hearing my alarm go off at 4am, but because when I get home after work at 5 it means I have the energy to play with my dog or call friends or work on fun projects instead of crawling home from the gym at 6:30 and just dying to veg out on the couch.
It’s baby steps, but it’s also baby steps that have a domino effect. And one of the biggest dominoes falling is this idea of giving myself permission to not be “proficient” at everything. I know that sounds so silly, but honestly it’s been such a mental game changer (and guilt reducer!) I mean, listen I am NOT proficient at keeping dog hair off my floors okay and I own that. But it’s all good because I know someone who is proficient at that and *I* am super proficient and scheduling her to to come at regular intervals! Win-win!
So now I’m on the lookout for what to outsource next. LIBERATION, I tell you.
Watch out world!