School is out for summer and yesterday was the first day together for myself and my daughter. My daughter wanted to chill, play, generally just go with the flow. However, when I got up, I immediately went into my normal mode of ‘I’ll put some washing on, I’ll do the dishes and I’ll tidy some stuff away etc. etc.’ Before I could get into that though, my 6 year old daughter sat me down, held my hand and said:
“Mummy, whenever I ask you to play, you always say ‘in a minute, I’ve got jobs to do.’ You’ve always got jobs to do mummy, all the time! Why can’t you just leave the jobs and play today?”
My mummy guilt button was triggered as it hit me that I had no argument to her statement. I am always doing jobs, whether it’s stuff on the business, stuff around the house, stuff for the family, I am a job person! Reflecting back on the last few weeks, I had to admit that she was right. Pretty much every day, whether it was a school day or a weekend, my first thought when I got out of bed is ‘what jobs have I got to get done?’ and I got them done.
I spent a bit of a time in that guilty place, feeling like I was letting her down. I berated myself and questioned why I can’t be more relaxed and be someone who doesn’t care about whether the jobs get done? Why was it so important to me that the ironing is done and the house is tidy? The truth hurts and I cannot deny that it stung when she said it but what she said was true!
If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs preferences, you will know that one of the preference pairs is J-P. If you have a J preference, you tend to like things planned, you are methodical, you prefer to decide in advance, you are organised and very structured. You tend to approach ‘work’ or ‘jobs’ as something that needs to be done first before you can then benefit from the reward of downtime or time off. (It won’t surprise you to know that my preference is J!)
As a P preference, you tend to be spontaneous, much more go with the flow. For you, the idea is play now and get the jobs done later. The jobs will always be there but the opportunity to play might not be.
I thought I should be more P. And then it occurred to me… that’s just not me, that’s not how I am built or motivated. In fact, I enjoy getting jobs done. I feel satisfied when I have been productive and moved things forward. So, whilst the truth of my daughter’s statement did hurt, it also set me free because it reminded me that I am motivated by achievement, always have been, and that’s ok!
Here was my challenge though because on the one hand, I have the feedback from my 6-year-old that I am always doing jobs when she wants to play and on the other hand, I like doing jobs but I want to be with her as well. I want to have that balance of work and play, of jobs and downtime.
Whenever my clients face a conundrum such as this, I often turn to a tool or a model to help shed some light on things. The Burn Bright Bank Account, which I teach on the Burn Bright Programme (click here for more details) came to mind as I pondered my challenge of finding a balance. Normally, the focus of this tool is on the deposits and withdrawals of our own Burn Bright Bank Account. Yesterday however, I flipped it and looked at it from a different perspective. Even though getting my jobs done for the day is very much a deposit for me in my Burn Bright Bank Account, the feedback from my daughter made me realise that me making deposits for myself has been making withdrawals from hers. To have play time with mummy would be a deposit whereas mummy being busy with jobs is definitely a withdrawal.
My question was and is, how do we burn bright (not out!) in a way that we can make deposits in to our Burn Bright Bank Account and deposits in the Burn Bright Bank Accounts of those around us, whether that be loved ones, work colleagues, direct reports?
Normally I have a solution or a recommendation but today I do not. It is something I am still pondering on as I have not thought about the Burn Bright Bank Account from this perspective before. Therefore, I am going to finish with a request. When you have read this blog and thought about how it applies to you, I would really love to hear your thoughts on:
- how you currently get a balance between deposits for you and deposits for those around you?
- how do we make sure the deposits for ourselves aren’t withdrawals for other people?
Have a great weekend and remember… it’s time to Burn Bright, not out!