The other day I was speaking with a client (I will call her ‘Amy’) about her Emotional Intelligence assessment. During the course of our conversation she mentioned that she really needed help with her work-life balance. I continued to listen to her share a few examples of how many hours she worked, the amount of work that she and her team had to accomplish, and how she believed that she couldn’t delegate more because of their workload. Is this something I could help her with?
I see people who are ‘depleted’ frequently. With Spring in full ‘bloom’ I thought the convergence of this person’s situation with Spring was a good time to explore renewal, maybe from a perspective that is a little different.
Do you have a favorite part of Spring? Is it those first few warm days with the sun at your back or on your face? Is it the first evidence of new life peeking through the ground; longer days; the first bike ride outside after a long winter? Yes! Yes to all of it, and more!
Thank you to those of you that commented on my piece on “Tolerance.” There is likely more to explore as we see what else emerges post guilty verdict of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin. I am hopeful that we continue to evolve understanding of our ‘interconnectedness’ with one another and our planet.
As Spring moves slowly into summer, may you experience renewal in a way that is life-giving.
Do your best work and be well.
When Amy finished sharing, she repeated her question, “Is this anything you can help me with?” My response was, “It is more important for you to manage your energy than your time.” I paused, allowing what I said to soak in. “Could you say that again?” was her response. “Sure. It is more important for you to manage your energy than your time.” She gave me this quizzical look, a similar quizzical look that I had when I first read that sentence in The Power of Full Engagement book written by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr in 2004.
The premise that I came to embrace was that our energy was the only renewable resource we possessed. If we didn’t care for ourselves by renewing our energy the people, relationships, work, and enjoyment of life would all suffer. Those most important to us would not experience us at our best.
Amy had no problem understanding the accuracy of that premise. Like many people who struggle to care for themselves, it is not in the understanding, it is in the doing. I told her the first question for her to answer was whether she wanted something different for her life? The motivation for all change comes from recognizing whether what we are doing, or where we are headed, is getting us what we want – and determining what we want.
Amy and I were there to talk on a broader scale about her EQ assessment, which included creating a development plan for one of the EQ Subscales. I will be interested to see what Amy does with the awareness she has uncovered.
For me, the information changed a lot of how I went about life and my work. I created a few rules about work. One of the key ones was never working more than 90 minutes without taking a break, even a short break. When I had been working mentally for a long stretch, I would take a walk; or listen to music, stretch, anything to allow my brain to recover.
I expanded my knowledge about different energy centers (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual and Social (P.I.E.S.S.)). I became increasingly aware of how I depleted myself, and how to renew the effected energy center(s). This knowledge, and corresponding behavioral practices, has helped me cope with many different situations in the last 17 years – not the least of which has been the Pandemic and having my son, daughter-in-law, and 6-, 4-, and 2-year-old grandchildren living with us since last July. Time to share a recent story of emotional renewal.
Every couple of years we mulch around our plants, shrubs, and trees. This was the year to do that. Spreading mulch allows my wife and I to have an ‘intimate’ look and relationship with our property and those things growing on it. This ‘connection’ with creation helps me to fall in love all over again with the beauty, the diversity, the intricacy of what is around me – helped immensely by the loving hands of my Master Gardner wife.
Spreading 10 yards of mulch is physical work. We take it slow to preserve our backs. This year we had just finished when the weatherman called for a freeze warning, and possible snow. Even with a new ‘blanket’ of mulch surrounding our ‘nature’ we were very concerned about what plants were fragile and would not survive. We covered some with netting, but there wasn’t any way to cover them all.
Tuesday night came, as did the heavy, wet snow – 2” worth. The low temperature was 28 degrees that night. We felt helpless and sad. These plants, flowers bring us such a lift during the growing season. Metaphorically, they are like our children.
The sequence of pictures at the top of the post are tulips during that snow, the next morning, and finally the morning after that. Amazing! Within two days they were back. In fact, the tulips, Brunnera, poppies, roses, weeping cherry, flowering crab all survived! Some had the ‘scars’ of freezing on their tips, but they survived. The Carolina Ferns were most damaged, but we will trim them and they will be okay.
Watching mother nature over these three days was a metaphor for the Pandemic, and the stress we all experienced over the past year plus. We were ‘weighted down’ physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Then, hope appeared on the horizon in the form of a vaccine. As time moved on we were ‘warmed’ by improving news and restrictions being lifted. Our lives began to be more hopeful. We began to connect more with our friends and family.
My connectedness to creation has expanded to not only how I see nature but my renewed understanding about the connectedness that all creation has. The collective ‘we’ are all ‘in this’ together. That more expansive view of our world has lifted (renewed) me in ways that have encouraged and challenged me over the past few months. How am I treating and caring for my fellow man? How am I treating those other species of living things around me and beyond?
My altered journey with renewal all started 17 years ago reading a sentence in a book, “It is more important to manage your energy than your time.” I have had a number of guides since. My friend and colleague, Richard, expanded my thinking about energy ‘centers.’ A Hawaiian preacher taught me about my energy ‘bucket.’ All of it changed how I live, what I learned about how I deplete myself, and most importantly, how I renew myself. Hopefully, it has allowed me to bring my best to my family, friends, other relationships, my work, how I enjoy the world and my life.
One other piece of information I gave to Amy for consideration. I offer you that same information. Consider that your ‘balance’ is ‘life’ balance, not work-life balance. It is all your life.
How are you ‘balancing’ today? Is what you are doing getting you what you want? What do you want?
To a better you…