Have you ever found yourself so mired down in the details of a project that you cannot see the big picture? All of the tiny tasks have you so focused that you are incapable of seeing how they interact with one another and thus what they mean to the end game. A more cliche’ phrase--”Can’t see the forest for the trees.” When was the last time you over committed and found yourself completely run down? How do you avoid this trap? If you find yourself in that position, how do you get out?
I remember one time when I had said yes about five too many times. To say I was stretched thin was an understatement. I was pulled in so many different directions, giving away so much of my time and energy, I was completely depleted. However, I didn’t know that. I knew I was busy. I knew I felt frantic. I knew I was over committed. I just had no idea how to get off the merry-go-round. Then it happened. Two friends kindly invited me out to lunch. Even though I was busy, I “made time for them, because they were important”. While at lunch they both began to talk to me about how concerned they were. They saw the spiral I was trapped in and thought I needed to take a step back and evaluate priorities, including making myself and self-care a priority. THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! I shed many tears during that lunch and came away knowing I had changes to make. After passing some responsibilities to other very capable people, turning off some commitments that didn’t feed me (not in the literal sense, but in the sense that when I participated in these activities I came away tired and drained rather than energized and excited) and committing to saying “no” more often, I had my life back in control and I began restorative care.
I have had similar experiences when working on projects. I and other members of my team each have or piece of the puzzle and it is obviously the most important piece of said puzzle because it is ours. We are all so busy focusing on our piece that we fail to see the puzzle as a whole picture. You have to have someone who stands back and can see how all the pieces fit together in order for things to come together for a completed, smoothly run project. If you are the team leader, that should be your job. However, sometimes even as leaders we get so micro-focused that we just can’t see it. You need someone that can stand beside you and help you dial out your vision to regain the big picture.
The point is this, in both your personal and professional life you should develop a circle of people who you can count on to intervene when you find yourself so deeply lost in the trees you can’t see the forest. No one is immune to blind spots. We all, at one time or another, get tangled up in our own head or activities and have trouble navigating out. If you have a trusted circle (I recently heard this referred to in a talk by a local business woman as “your personal advisory board”--thank you Coco Duckworth) you have a team you can turn to when you need encouragement, mentorship or just a healthy dose of reality. Here is what my personal advisory board looks like. I am not using names. Let’s see if those that know me well can identify themselves or others they know.
The Sage - This is a strong woman who has done and seen much. She is wise, strong and opinionated. She has always been honest with me and happy to provide her strong female perspective when needed. She is the female role model I lacked in my youth and I am grateful for her in my adult years.
The Cheerleader - Always in my corner! This lady is always rooting for me to succeed, no matter the project. Furthermore, she puts her efforts where her mouth is. She is always there to lend a hand when I need it.
The Empath - My sweet, sensitive, caring friend who can see right through any facade I try to put up. She is always able to make me stop, take a breath, step back and spend some time in the moment to prioritize things in my life.
The Creatives - Yes, there are more than one that fit in this category. They are the ones who are always sharing their creative new ideas with me. I am inspired by their visions and energized by their ideas.
The Homies - Yes, there are more than one of these too, and there is a healthy mix of males and females in this group. They come to the rescue when you just need to have an adult beverage, good food and let go of responsibility for an bit. They are super important to the self-care and that is super important to being able to maintain a demanding schedule.
The Spouse - My husband is someone who steps into any and all of these roles at any given moment. He is super smart. He has an incredible talent for big picture and forward vision. He is my rock. I am very fortunate to have him in my corner.
Who sits on your personal advisory board? What do they bring to your table? Can you think back to a specific time when your advisory board really pulled your bacon out of the fire? I would love to hear your stories. If you recognize yourself as a member of my board, I’d love to hear from you too!