Sitting on an airplane taking me to London for a conference, I find myself thinking about the book I am reading, Give and Take by Adam Grant. This book has really opened my eyes to why I am unsuccessful in some of the projects I hold dear. I am not saying that I am smarter or better prepared than anyone, one thing I do know about myself however is that I am a giver. Now, there is proof in the pudding, givers are winners. That is unless they are doormats. And in many ways I feel I am becoming one.
The oldest of four, three boys after me, I was always the child that the most was expected from. Little by little I came to live on a very dangerous drug – people pleasing. I am currently a recovering people pleaser but I find that I am falling off the wagon in a new and equally dangerous way – selfless giving. And no, I am not tooting my own horn, cause this is nothing to brag about. In the best of times this is silly. That is, when it doesn’t turn me off people, stop my progress and poses barriers in my career path.
Some weeks ago someone I knew a while back reached out to chat, seemingly looking to reconnect. 50 minutes of listening later, with the promise that we will talk soon, the conversation was stopped. Needless to say, the phone never rang again.
I love helping colleagues and like minded professionals, at any time of the day. I don’t do it in the hope of tit for tat. I do it in the hope of true connection. And I get hurt every single time I see that I have just tried to connect with a taker – that is, someone who short circuited connection so that their purpose is met.
When I was younger, I used to get upset with them. Nowadays I know enough to be upset with myself. I have probably reached half way through my life, if not more, and I still have no idea how to give in a way that doesn’t disregard myself. I allow myself to go to lengths that turn me into a bitter person, resentful and pissed off, that drive anything but connection. And seeing this, I withdraw – it is much easier than being there with boundaries in place. At least for me.
Over the past couple of weeks, as I have become more aware of what I am doing, I have tried to be honest, stand up for myself and be kind in the process. Oh my! The heavy lifting my emotions have had to endure! A ten minute honest discussion has me in the chords, mobilizing all of my might to keep calm, balanced and kind.
Life is a fascinating journey! I just am currently entertaining the epiphany that it is a continuous boot camp – that I will never reach cruising altitude and speed, be able to just relax, be and reap the benefits of all the learning and training. (Isn’t it great that, at the same time, life’s constant is change so chances are in a few you’ll be reading about me delighting in balanced emotions while telling someone to get off my back? 🙂 )