Today I was conducting a coaching session with an executive I respect highly. She shared that what I said to her during a previous session had really stuck with her. I couldn’t remember what it was, so I asked, and she said, “You cannot have too much Zen right now.”
It had been 6 weeks since I shared that message with her. At the time she had told me how sad, angry, and depressed she was feeling. I asked her what self-care she was practicing.
With pride she reported that she wakes up each morning and prays, then she takes a long walk for exercise, and she ends each day with a short yoga routine. She was proud of herself for the amount of self-care she had habitualized, and I was proud of her as well!
Then I said, “How about doing more?” “More?!” she exclaimed, and I responded, “Yes, more, if possible. You can never have too much Zen.”
For many of us, we have been taught to always be “doing.” We were socialized to think next assignment, next promotion, next shiny object…
Collectively, we are experiencing a global pandemic. Nationally, we have more unrest and discord than most of us have ever experienced during our lifetimes. There is enormous racial tension. If there was ever a time to have more Zen, it is now.
I would love to know how you have increased your self-care during this challenging time. Remember, you can never have too much Zen!
Nineteen years ago I came home from a business trip, gave my husband Bill a huge hug and kiss, and immediately tiptoed into each of the kids’ bedrooms for goodnight hugs and kisses.
After all the loving, I went back to my hubbie and said, “You really got a lot done. Seems like the kids did their homework, dinner is cleaned up, and everything looks great. Too bad you don’t do that when I am home.”
I got a well-deserved dirty look because I gave what I often refer to as a “boomerang compliment.” A boomerang compliment is tricky. It seems like a compliment, but it’s really not. It starts off like it’s going in the right direction, but then it comes back and hits you smack in the face.
Here are some more examples of boomerangs:
“The sales presentation went well. I only wish you had used it with the Gordon group. Maybe then we wouldn’t have lost the sale.”
“I like the new filing system. It would have been even better if you had put it in place when I first asked you to do so.”
“Thanks for taking out the trash. Maybe you won’t need to be told 5 times next week.”
While you may mean well, a boomerang compliment has the opposite effect from making someone feel good. Give your compliment and STOP. You will both be glad you did!
About a year ago I was talking with my business manager Keri about how messy the Concordia office was. We both agreed that it was not only messy, it needed a facelift! I thought about the amount of work and effort it would take to clean out all the closets and files and to move the book cases packed with books. I decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort or the distraction from working with my clients.
Then March 2020 came. Like many others, I thought that Covid would be similar to a major East Coast snow storm and that it would be temporary, so I just kept working. I don’t know when reality hit, but it was sometime this summer when I realized that all workers, including me, needed to do some serious long-term planning.
Colleagues, we are in this for the long haul. We may return to traditional offices, and then we may be sent back home again. We may return for a few days each week, or perhaps for only a few days each month, in order to lessen the number of people in the office. Each of my clients has a different scenario, but what is clear is that business as we knew it will not return anytime soon.
For my readers who are essential workers and health care providers, first of all, thank you! Now, please plan and take your vacations. You may have been saving for a big trip, but you need to take time off sooner rather than later. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You can also tune into my colleague Colleen Sweeney’s tips.
For those of you balancing child care with employment, balance no more. I don’t mean throw your kids to the curb, but please don’t think anyone can work 40 hours a week while simultaneously taking care of young children. It is simply not sustainable. You are cheating yourself, your children, and your employer. I have been telling CEOs and Executive Directors to be patient, but if your employer is paying you, you need to be engaged and proactive, not just reactive. If you haven’t done so already, research the childcare options available to you and treat this like the long-term situation that it likely will be. This is not the time to stall or tread water in your career; think about how to achieve the future you desire.
If you are feeling socially isolated, figure that out too. Perhaps you can increase your bubble, train for a marathon, or find any way to connect with others safely.
So, what are you doing to plan for the long term? This is not a snow storm! I did embark on that office facelift, and look forward to working in a new and more functional space.