I enjoy simplifying complex situations into a one slide PowerPoint. I often get ribbed at work about it and the visualizaiton is of cousre a handy way to communicate your point of view, but it is through the multiple iterations of reframing the situation that you come to understand that view. It was only natural that I eventually applied the same concept to myself.
After my breakdown last year, I focused on solidifying my values but didn’t feel they captured all of me. I knew that I needed to align my actions with my values, but can every responsibility you have be highly valued? Is family a value or an area I apply them? Work didn’t feel like a value, but I spend most of my waking hours there so it has to be part of the framework. Enter David Whyte’s writing on moving from balancing your work-life to integrating your relationships with yourself, your work, and others.
Value: a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
I first came across the research of Kouzes and Posner in 2014 at a leadership course and the exercise I found most interesting was combing through their deck of values cards to identify my top five. I still revisit the deck every year, have each of my direct reports go through them, and with 50% success have asked my supervisors. My wife has gone through them and on some “really fun” future family night I plan to go through them together with our kids. Values are your relationship with yourself and apply to all situations you encouter. They form the basis of all relationships. Be untrue to them at your own peril!
Gift: a natural ability or talent.
The next step to knowing yourself is understanding what you’re good at. I already knew the specific projects and qualities that had made me successful at work, but didn’t understand the underlying skills that applied to my life in general. I didn’t embrace these skills at home (it bit me several times) and didn’t harness them in other leadership positions (it limited me in volunteering). Rather than harness my talents, I tried to be someone else to fit in and everyone was the worse for it. I finally took a spiritual gifts survey at our church and instantly recognized the lost opportunities. We are all unique and your individual skills are how you can best contribute to a situation – celebrate them!
Priority: the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important.
Lastly, it is your priorities that acknowledge your limited time to and guide you to focus your efforts in the most impactful way. Since I view life as production, these keep you from spreading thin. If there is a conflict between my family and friend obligations, family wins. Before The Three Marriages, myself and my work were on the priority list but now I seem them as separate aspects that go beyond just taking time to do what I want or what occurs in my office. This next year will be a trial of integrating family, work, and self as we weigh continuing on my current path or making a career change.
So, how do these relationships integrate?
- Not being clear of and/or acting incongruent with your values will eventually catch up to you. Your values form the basis of all your relationships. They guide how you act in your work and your relationships.
- Embrace what you are good at and decide to either work on that which you not are…or let it go. Some of our skills come from nature and some from nurture. Find the ones that permeate all you do and go deep.
- Don’t spread thin. You can’t be everything, to everyone, all the time. Think of your time as money and budget it like Dave Ramsey teaches: pay the bills that align with Maslow’s Pyramid from the bottom up and draw a line when you run out of money/time.