I spent a couple days last week not enjoying them. I contracted the common cold and I, being a man, turned into a snot-nosed, drawly zombie who’s thirst is quenched only by at least 64oz of orange juice. Three days later I returned to being human. Women seem to have this resilience to work through colds or for them, more aptly named inconveniences. They somehow shrug them off while the germs slowly decay over time all while maintaining their fullest dignity. Conversely my dignity is reduced to carrying a tissue box as an accessory. This isn’t however, a comparison between sexes. It’s about another affliction entirely that befell me during those two arduous days. Time Warp.
I’ve previously discussed the importance of keeping wants in parallel with needs. With a constant barrage of needs in our lives, it might be difficult to perceive how one could bring our wants up to par. Instead, what if we could reduce our needs? What if, to one thing today, you had said no?
What No is and What it Should be
Most of us shrink when reading that last sentence. We’ve been conformed to believe the word is negative, forbidden, and frowned upon. I want to change it to be empowering, taking back control, and committing to your well-being. When you tell someone no you’re prohibiting an action or call to action. Yet, when a request comes to us, despite our internal desires to say no we say yes. Later confiding to others that “This is dumb, I don’t have the time and I don’t want to do it.” What then, drives our almost immediate inclination to agree?
An average nights sleep being constant, we dutifully approach each day with relatively equal amounts of vigor. We have about sixteen hours to do it all before we sink into our next bedrest. Society splits our days into two sections. Work and Out of Work. Work being a job, whatever form that takes for you, and life outside of work alluding to the common phrase of work/life balance. I’ve had a problem with this phrase for a while and I’ve landed at a few conclusions as to why.
I believe that leaders can be anyone, regardless of title, who are willing to invest time and energy in others in the pursuit of growth. That aside, let’s be more specific to leaders in title, or managers. These managers set the tone for the rest of the team and are held at a higher standard. One expectation of managers, and probably one of the toughest, is giving feedback. These conversations require tact and keen observation in the moment. What’s troublesome is that most managers are either unequipped or unwilling to have these conversations. Although it’s an older Harvard Business Review article and the population was small, the numbers still surprised me. Two-thirds of the managers surveyed are uncomfortable in this setting.
As the article suggests, on the opposite end, employees yearn for valuable feedback. Teammates in their first or second position are especially interested in feedback. They’re on their maiden voyage in unexplored waters.
No impactful decision comes without contemplation, evaluation of opportunity costs, and weighing pros and cons. It consumes even more energy when it’s for the first time. I think of these as thresholds – like through a door. The physical doors in our life can play tricks on us. We’ve all walked into a room and immediately forgotten our thoughts or why we walked in there the first place. Just the same, the metaphorical doors can have the same effect. You can scheme up a hundred possibilities but no matter how many practice rounds you take, it never goes exactly like you’d imagine after you stepped through. Once you’re in the arena, emotions take over rationale and you’ve forgotten it all. Luckily, understanding this truth is an amazing first step.
I separate these types of situations into two different terms. Experience thresholds, physically participating in an event for the first time, and relationship thresholds, the first few conversations with someone new. You can only do something new once while each relationship is unique.