I’m a control freak. This was my first epiphany in counseling sessions I’ve been taking for over a year now. I like to control my actions and the surrounding events, so that I can control the outcomes. And sometimes just the illusion of control is enough to make me feel at ease.
Last weekend, I was a control freak who’d lost control. My almighty to-do list was running the show. It had me by the throat and showed no signs of releasing its grip anytime soon. But I don’t give up easily, and I wasn’t going down without a fight. I planned to use my to-do list against itself, so I blocked out time Friday-Monday to regain control.
That was until Friday morning.
Everything changed when I got a text from my niece. She wanted to get away from home and wondered if she could visit for the weekend. She wanted an escape. She needed to get away from school, from the fam, from the boyfriend. The trials of a 16-year-old girl had reached their peak, and she needed a break.
Well, there went my to-do list mutiny plans…gladly, there they went.
It was one of those moments in life where you just got called off the bench. You know those moments? Where your number’s just been called. Where you’re asked to get in the game and do something…anything. This was one of those moments. I love my niece way more than I love my freaking to-do list, and I was honored she’d want her life to cross with mine at that moment. She was asking for time, for attention, or just a refuge. In any event, she was asking. I needed to respond.
So what’s all that have to do with your job or your business?
That weekend made me stop and think. Before launching Keyhole Marketing, I never had a job that would have afforded me the luxury to break away and be there for my niece. I never worked for a company or a boss that truly acknowledged that there’s life outside of the office. Well, it may exist…just after 5P and on Saturday and Sundays (some weeks anyway).
My niece needed me then. Right then. Not when I could fit her in. Not when my schedule allowed. Not when my to-dos were all done. Not after I filled out a vacation request form and got it approved by the proper channels. Life was moving fast in those moments, and I needed to be able to move with it. I needed to immediately punch out of work and punch into life.
So I ask you…how’s your gig treating you? Do they let you diversify your investments…in life and in work? Do you have the freedom to respond when life calls?
Or if you’re “the (wo)man” that someone’s working for, how are you treating your employees? Do you trust them enough to leave work when needed and still get their work doen? Do you see the value in allowing them to do things for others…even if it means between the hours of 9-5, M-F? It could actually come back to benefit, not bite, you.
My friend Jeb Banner wrote a blog post recently, comparing workplaces to prisons. I loved his line in there: “Work and life must flow together seamlessly, each bringing meaning and value to the other…It’s time to set your people free.”
If you don’t have that kind of job, keep looking. Or start your own!
Interestingly, my niece’s middle name is “Hope.” If she found some more of that while visiting us, then there was no better use of my time.
Screw what my to-do list says.