Live a blissful life on your terms
The story of the wolves is one of the most powerful metaphors for where we are in life, I must share it with you.
It's an old Native American Cherokee fable and goes something like this...
The chief was telling his son about the battle raging inside each of us every day.
"Son, you have two wolves battling for control of your mind, body and spirit.
The black wolf represents fear, anger, resentment, guilt and blame.
The white wolf represents hope, joy, love and kindness"
The boy asked "Which wolf will win?"
The chief answered "Whichever you feed."
So today I ask you the question again… which wolf are you feeding?
There’s a chance right now your black wolf is very happy and fat! The uncertainty of what's happening in the world, guilt over how we juggle kids and work that doesn't seem to be slowing down and are constant inability to do anything for ourselves is like a permanent buffet meal!
Meanwhile, your white wolf, representing hope, love, joy and calm is shivering...
I was just doing a wrap up of what’s happened in the first nine months of 2020 and realised how busy I was supporting women get their life back, that I haven't had time to share with you how you can balance your demanding career and family, without burning out.
There's been a lot happening this year in Australia... must be the understatement of the century! Bushfires or a pandemic aside, more women need my help now more than ever, so it's a poor effort on my part.
In the past few months, my clients have:
Learned to say no at work, stopped being the workhorse for the team and they're now able to get more of their real work done in work hours rather than spending each night on the couch with a laptop
Ditched the guilt, anger and resentment that's been festering for years so they can make room for love, joy and gratitude
Discovered what was holding them back and held their mojo captive as they learn to tame their mind and ditch all the self-doubt that used to overwhelm them
Polite. Perfectionist. Peacekeeper.
Sound like you at all?
If so, these three words are symptoms of something bigger that's very likely to be holding you back at work.
This 'thing' cautions you against speaking up in meetings, makes you nervous about upsetting the apple cart and has you feel like it's important that everyone likes you.
It's not something physical, yet its ramifications can impact your career and bleed into other aspects of your life.
What am I talking about?
I'm talking about the Good Girl Complex, and it afflicts many, many women from all walks of life.
What is the Good Girl Complex?
While we might have come a long way in selecting gender-neutral toys for kids, there are still many ways society still imprints upon us how we should think and behave.
Many women who are now entering the leadership ranks were told as children, consciously and subconsciously, that they should be polite, nurturing, warm and never get into trouble. In contrast, boys were told to 'be...
"My way is just different, it's not wrong" is something hubby said to me recently.
This is on the back of me deciding that the shower needed cleaning at 10:15 pm at night when I should have been going to bed.
Turns out, he'd already cleaned the shower the day before.
One of the biggest things I've had to come to terms with in being the primary breadwinner is that things aren't done 'my way' when it comes to the kids or the house.
I've never been that pedantic about cleaning, but what we've discovered over the past few years is that we value different things when it comes to cleanliness.
That's especially been the case when we're home ALL THE TIME and the opportunities to create mess are ENDLESS!
I value clean bathrooms and a floor that's not covered in dog/cat hair.
In the early days we'd fight like cats and dogs (hahaha, pun intended:)) over things like this.
But it's only been in the last few years that we've managed to stop (ok, reduce) these types of issues causing...
15 half-written emails, a to-do list out the wazoo, 3 in-progress texting conversations, putting the kids to bed while texting work…
Does any of this sound familiar?
Before I learned to tame my mind I used to be doing 1 million things at one. I mean, I honestly should have had my photo in the dictionary under "multi-tasking".
I felt I had no choice but do try and do 1 million things at once, because with so much to do, it was the only chance I had of even making a dent in the list.
Then I read this quote from the wise-old Confucius:
"She who chases two rabbits, catches neither."
And it dawned on me. I was trying to chase 1 million rabbits, was it any wonder that I never felt that sense of achievement I was working really hard for?
But in my head, the alternative would mean that I didn't get through everything, and that thought was unimaginable. Everything needed to be done, NOW. Everything needed to be done by me.
Well, was that really the case?
One night as I ran through the...
Do you remember lying in bed as a child, terrified of the monster in the corner of your room? The one which morphed into different shapes and your imagination came up with all the ways it would come and eat you?
If it all got too much, you'd yell out for a parent to come and get rid of the monster.
What did they do in that moment? That moment when your mind was running wild and you were drowning in fear.
They turned on the light.
"Oh. Is that all," you'd say.
It's just a pile of toys. Maybe it's the curtain. But it's nothing like what you thought it was. You then lie back down and go straight to sleep.
This exact same process is going on inside your brain right now!
Instead of being a monster, that thing in the corner that is dominating your brain is a belief that you're not good enough. Or that you need to be liked. Or that you can't let people down. Or that you don't deserve success.
Whatever your unique blend of monster is, it has you paralysed and is driving a huge amount...
"I'm someone who can get sh*t done" is said proudly by 95% of the women I work with.
"It's part of who I am. It's part of what's got me here. I'm proud of it and I'm proud of just how much I get done in one day, far more than other mere mortals."
That's all wonderful, but what happens when we get more senior and the volume of work increases?
Well… we work harder. And longer. And more on the couch. And on the weekends.
Here's the thing… being a get sh*t done person is only going to take you so far. What you need to do is to learn to play the orchestra.
Steve Jobs said "Musicians play instruments, I play the orchestra."
You, my dear, are a musician. Otherwise known as a workhorse. One who gets flogged and is valued for the volume of output they can produce. Also, one who's sense of confidence comes from being able to deliver.
Yet, as the work volume increases and it starts to become almost impossible to work any harder, you feel like you're failing. Your confidence...
I was talking with a client recently who was whinging about having to eat pizza for dinner on her Saturday night.
I inquired why the tone of voice - it’s tasty and usually doesn’t involve having to cook so it’s a win-win in my books!
It turns out, Julie HATES pizza! And yet her family got pizza every Saturday night because it’s what they all wanted.
And what did Julie want?
So why was she having pizza every Saturday night?
Julie had set up her life in such a way that to be a good mum, she always had to put herself last. She sacrificed her body for her kids, so that should continue and so their needs should always come before hers.
If she put herself first, she was selfish. And mums don’t get to be selfish. That would make her a bad mum. If she was a bad mum her kids wouldn’t love her anymore.
And so she continued to begrudgingly eat pizza as if it’s a testament to her love for her children. Sacrifice of the mozzarella kind!
This is something I hear from women all the time, but even more so from those who are the breadwinners for their family, and for some reason seem even more determined to prove that they're effortlessly gliding along the surface.
Meanwhile… on the inside…
There's a whole lotta "oh sht, oh sht, oh sh*t", going on as they attempt to stay on top of every aspect of their life.
This is taking fake it 'till you make it to a whole other level.
Let's take my dear friend Kate. We spoke at 5pm one day as she finally admitted she was desperate for help. She'd just received a promotion after months of hard work and knew she should have been excited. After all, it's what she's wanted for years and this promotion would deliver a bigger remit and of course, more money to go with it.
However the moment she found out, she was overcome with fear that she wouldn't be good enough. Could she help a bigger team navigate through all this uncertainty? How would the politics play out in times...
"I feel like I'm having an affair… with your laptop!"
Was something hubby said to me not too long ago.
"It joins us on the couch, it's in between us in bed and it's the first thing you touch in the morning."
You know what? He was right. I was very much glued to my laptop and it was coming in between us. Thankfully, I'm in a position to be able to fix this but I know of many women who feel that 'just putting it away' isn't an option.
… But Jo, 9.30pm is the only time I get to do the real work I need to get done because I spend my days in back-to-back meetings
… If I don't clear my inbox each night (and answer a few quick emails) I'll start my day underwater before it's even begun
… I left early to do pick up and so need to show everyone my work won't suffer
Are just some of the stories and reasons they tell me they need to work on the couch every night.
"So, when do you actually chat to your husband?" I ask these women?
"Oh, on the couch...