This week I’m addressing the final topic in the four-part summer series I’m calling “Favorite Fails.” However, this week you’ll see a different approach to our Humans at Work™ theme, as I include a letter “To Me, From Myself,” in which I address what I am learning from a recent “Favorite Fail.”

Dear Me:
So, you are doing all of this work to help your clients live lives that are fulfilling to them, yet you’ve been running around like a crazy person. True leaders are supposed to model what they teach, Lisa. But during this very busy year you’ve made some personal sacrifices that aren’t fulfilling.
You missed your seven-year old’s “Author Party,” where she proudly revealed the book she’d been writing for weeks. You were absent at your six-year-old’s class play — the one she was so excited about. You forgot your anniversary, running into Walgreen’s to grab a card on your way home (when you were already running late). Your parents are upset that they hardly got to see you last time they visited because you were working The Whole Time. You’ve misplaced important paperwork — no wonder — because your home office is a mountain of debris, so overwhelming it makes you want to cry. And you haven’t been a great friend lately, going radio-silent for weeks at a time as you allow your to-do list to rule your life.
How can you coach others to lead satisfying lives when you’re breaking all of your own rules?! What are you learning from the feeling of failure you’re experiencing right now?
— Myself

Dear Myself,

So, let’s just remember that you’re lucky to have a thriving business and a great family. While you have accepted reality — that doing what you love professionally requires some personal sacrifices — you’re currently sacrificing too much. You need to make some shifts in the way you work and think. Let’s review what you would tell others in this same situation:

1.  Refine your focus. Ask yourself what’s really important to you. What was important to you professionally in past years may not be important now. And it’s the same way in your personal life. Once you reassess those priorities, you will be free to focus on what you enjoy most.

2.  Say “no” to the things that aren’t consistent with those priorities. Keep your personal priorities front and center and allow them to guide your decision-making.

3.  Remember that you serve your clients, family and friends best when you take time for self-care. Since others know when you’re running ragged and aren’t fully present, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself. You’re taking care of others when you take care of yourself.

4.  You must choose your sacrifices. You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once. At each point, something has to give. At this point, your house is not as organized as you would like it to be. That’s just the way it’s going to be right now. At this point you can’t spend as much time with friends as you’d like to. That’s a sacrifice you have to make right now.

5.  Pay attention to how it feels to be in this place. When you’re tempted to make decisions out of alignment with your true priorities, remember this feeling – not creative, not productive, not energized by your work, and frustration that you’re not doing well in any one area. Now you know this is not a happy or productive place. If you learn from this failure, you don’t have to return to this place.

So, there’s those five things. But again, remember what you tell your clients: setting and maintaining priorities is not an easy five-step process. This is hard. No one can do this perfectly. If someone tells you they can do it perfectly, they either have no personal insight, or they’re lying. But this failure may be a blessing because it’s prompting you to follow your own advice.And by sharing this “ah-ha” moment publicly, you’ve created the ultimate accountability for yourself.
Lisa, your job now is to walk the talk, modeling the principles you teach about how to be among the most fulfilled Humans At Work™. I know you can do this.

I invite you to join my Facebook Group: Lead at a Higher Level to interact with me directly. I launched the group as a space for having broader conversations around leadership. Joining the group gives you access to me and to a cohort of fellow leaders who are passionate, innovative, and focused on sharpening their leadership skills and furthering their careers.  I’d love for you to join us!

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