Last week I was a guest speaker for a Management Consulting class at Belmont University. My topic? Building self-awareness. Being self-aware is an essential quality for consultants and leaders. It allows us to spot triggers and limiting beliefs when they pop up (and they will), and gives us the power to choose how we respond. Part of this process also includes identifying those characteristics or qualities we most want to avoid – laziness, dishonesty, being irresponsible and so on…
As we struggle to avoid these characteristics, we sometimes go overboard in the other direction. This is called the Either/Or Trap. I’ve written and spoken about it more times than I can count, and I’m still as vulnerable as anyone else to getting caught up in it.
Recently, a young entrepreneur told me, “I work all the time because being lazy or irresponsible is just not who I am. But I’m beginning to wonder, is working all the time such a good thing? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
As the “expert,” I knew all the reasons it was important for this person to take time off. When we aren’t working ideas can come together, our brains get refreshed, and our emotions have a chance to express themselves fully rather than weighting us down.
But here’s what’s interesting. As I gave this wonderful advice, a new self-awareness began to dawn on me. Recently, I’d been so busy; I hadn’t stopped to realize that I, too, had been working all the time. And that’s not a good thing.
I decided to spend a weekend walking in the leaves, sitting by the fire, and going to the opera. Will there be moments when the voice in my head says: Do something, you have so much work! Be productive!
But here’s what I know: The need for self-awareness never stops. Even experts have to look at their own habits and follow their own advice. The truth is, not working is one of the best suggestions we can practice.
I have two questions for you:
- What will you do in addition to working?
- What advice do you give to others but fail to follow in your own life?
Until next Tuesday,
P.S. For more on learning about your own Either/Or Trap, check out Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next