Leading a group of adults can feel a lot like being a parent…more often than you might like.
The other day, my 13 year old son who likes to sleep in asked me to take him to school so he could sleep 20 minutes later. Now we pay for a bus because his school is across the river in the adjoining city. On good days, it is a good 20 minute commute. On bad ones like that day because it was snowing, I knew that giving him a ride could take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours out of my day.
I weighed the effect on my stress level against his wish to get 20 minutes more of sleep. I had him take the bus. He was not pleased.
You can compare this situation to dozens of different situations at work. Competing demands and priorities at work and at home. Leadership and supervisees who make it seem like their wishes are needs and they need to be met NOW or even better—yesterday.
If I had taken my son to school that day, I would have felt resentful and angry at him. It is very easy to place the blame outward when one doesn’t take care of oneself. Ever heard of martyrdom?
I get that it is often not easy to figure out what is most important in any given situation especially if you feel overwhelmed and different people want different things from you.
But as an adult, it is my job to be mindful enough to weigh demands and sometimes to decide that my stress level comes first.
When we give ourselves a moment to step back to get to our observer place: we can stop, notice and name our experiences. And we can make decisions from a place of self-compassion. When we get to that place of self-compassion, we can set boundaries with compassion.
I told my son that I would take him to school one day next week if the weather was good. Because I remember how hard it was to have to wake up early as a teen and how good it felt not to rush to get ready for the bus.
So, give it a try. Apply these steps: stop to observe your feelings and thoughts, then simply name them–at home or at work–before acting. It only takes a few moments.