Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Slow down, Soldier...

Yesterday I worked my first 12-hour day since I got sick in May this year.

I don't get tired when I'm working. I get into a flow - meeting people, creating concepts and strategies, selling ideas to clients, motivating my own team... when I'm working in this positive and creative frame of mind, I'm at my best, and stopping seems silly.

So my last meeting with a new potential client in the Environmental Sector felt so right that I just let it run on and on...and suddenly I was realizing it was past my children's bedtime and way past the time when I should have been recovering at home!

But I need to be so careful - this kind of behaviour that comes so naturally to me can be counter productive, putting my body under severe stress and then not allowing it recovery time before I demand that it gets up again in the morning to do it all again!

I've been a great fan over the years of Marcus Buckingham and Gallup's Strengthfinder as a tool to understand one's strengths better and learn how to play to them. One of my top strengths is that of 'Achiever'. The Clifton Strengthsfinder defines it as follows:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by "every day" you mean every single day -- workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

So I have this fire that burns my backside every time I find myself sitting still. It's a little voice whispering 'You haven't done enough yet" and it is the thing that has caused me the most discomfort since I got really sick. Because in order to heal from being sick, I've had to try to ignore that voice. I've had to lie down when the voice wanted me to get up. I've had to sit and calm down when the voice has wanted me to get up and fight. I've had to continue to choose low impact, low stress activities for a while so my body and soul can recover fully from the devastating physical and emotional trauma I have walked through over the past 6 months.

I have been trying to convince myself that just this act of slow recovery is, in itself, an achievement. This is my 60th blog already! I have been relentlessly doing the emotional work to try to walk myself gently into healthier ways of being. A more sustainable way of being in the world for this, the second half of my life. I'm realising it's not about 'doing less'. It's actually about being different.

I remember a conversation I had with a coach I was working with a few years ago. I had already been diagnosed with my Autoimmune issues, and was paying lip service to the fact that I needed to change some things in my life in order to stress less. I was bragging to my coach that I was working much less and had reduced my working hours significantly. He asked me what time I started work. 7am. He asked when I finished work. 6pm. "Oh" he says cynically, "So I see that, now you've cut down your working hours, you're working only 11 hours a day." Well, there wasn't much I could say to that.

So although this Achiever strength of mine is definitely the petrol I use to compel me forward, I do need to possibly change how I see my own achievement. I like that I'm committed to completing these blogs every day, and I do get a little thrill as I see my reader numbers steadily increasing (I AM a numbers girl - thankyou, readers for coming back - it helps!). I think I need to be celebrating other achievements too. I need to enjoy the fact that, even though it has broken my heart and taken every ounce of will power in me, I have NOT contacted John-the-Narc even once since he began his legal crusade against me. That is minimising the amount of stress and abuse I could have been suffering at his hands. I'm proud that I'm keeping up with my exercise programme to build the strength I need and the movement I need to keep my joints protected. I'm proud that I'm eating so well and avoiding all foods that interfere with my Autoimmune system. And I continue with my process of dealing all the emotional and relationship things that have been so destructive to me over the years.

I have been struggling with how much actual 'Work' that I'm doing, trying to turn the company around again - I am just not currently capable of the drive that is actually needed to do this. But somehow the Universe seems to be looking after me in that regard. I'm meeting people that seem to be just the right folk for my growth strategy going forward, and my sales team seems to be resurrecting itself of it's own accord to get moving for selling to next year's targets. Maybe it's because I cannot create as much energy that I used to be able to do, that people around me are being forced to rise to the occasion and take up their own slack.

And maybe that is part of my new way of being. Continually reminding myself that I'm not responsible for the lives and success of the people around me - I need to keep myself open to the success they can bring, and focus my own energy on the very clever things that will make the most impact.

A different way of being.

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