Wednesday as the work day drew to a close, a colleague who was exiting the building said, “I’m gone.” I replied, “Have a great weekend!” Everyone in earshot immediately laughed out loud as I looked and felt perplexed. Then, she said something like, “It’s not Friday yet, Kim. It’s only Wednesday.” I shook my head, rolled my eyes (at myself), and laughed along with everyone else.
Too many tasks due on the same day, technological challenges, working almost a full work day after Easter service Sunday, and back-to-back meetings each day Monday through Wednesday made Wednesday feel like Friday to me. Even after I realized that my long work days made me want to end the work week in the middle of the week, I decided that attending an evening event that same night was a good idea. It was the second evening event for me within that previously described four day stretch. The week reminded me that my decision to do anything for any purpose, purposeful or fun, came with a cost – my time and my energy.
I love my job and most of the folks I encounter in conjunction with my work. Thankfully, a couple of the folks whose opinions I value reminded me that I have the capacity to say no and to decide how to spend my time and energy. These colleagues who I also consider friends encouraged me to set reasonable and attainable expectations for myself. Ever wonder why you repeat behaviors that you know lead to certain outcomes? For the last two years, I have written about what felt like hangover symptoms at the ends of the last two school years. Wednesday evening I wondered if my hangover blog post theme would become a trilogy.
Thursday, I participated in a workshop called “As I see myself.” Much of what I learned about myself I already knew. However, I gained a deeper understanding about why I need the campus partners who I affecitonately call “my handlers.” The presenter happened to be one of my trusted mentors and through the workshop he and I learned more details about my personality type and behavioral tendencies. Because of the new, or more detailed revelations, he coached me to identify when my tasks lists included unrealistic expectations. I thought about the potential results of too many tasks coupled with the natural tendancis of an outcomes, tasks-driven sort of person.
During the workshop, a number of my colleagues also self-identified their behavioral classifications. It was pretty cool to explore the behaviors needed to sustain a productive, efficient, well-equipped village. The evaluation instrument revealed the behaviors to which we were naturally inclined and those that might be learned. The new revelations aroused my inner village builder. Excitment built inside me as I dreamed about constructing healthy, supportive villages for young people equipped with the new findings. The new perspective of me meant new options for being the best me. I closed out the week with new data and a new focus. The new data made it imperative that I shift my focus to balance. I needed to consider balancing my natural and rehearsed behaviors with the behaviors the instruments placed opposite my normal.
Interestly, lack of balance at times during the last two years resulted in the hungover blog posts. I failed at my work-life balance early in the week and I think in some way part of me tried to shock the rest of me into reasonableness by making me the subject of the office joke Wednesday afternoon. I said “tried” because I didn’t get the hint that day. As physically tired as I was Wednesday evening, I sat through an operatic performance fighting sleep and the fear of snoring out load when the lights dimmed and the violinist played in tune with the vocalist. The sounds in the theatre calmed and soothed the room and I wondered how many others struggled with the spirit of sleep and drowsiness lurking in the room.
Friday, I processed with others our shared experiences at “As I see myself.” The more I processed with attendees the more I owned that my ability to responsibly manage my behaviors would have a direct impact on my work-life balance. Moreover, I accepted that my balancing act and the consistency with which I performed the balancing act would impact the stability of the village and the community.
Balance is missing in so many sectors of our society right now. It seems that many folks prefer polarization over the balancing act that yields buy in and sustainable processes and programming. Many choose polarization over submission to the greater cause that uplifts the larger community because of their own agendas. Balance requires selfless actions instead of actions that promote the self-seeking agendas. Balance means understanding that self-preservation means preserving oneself in order to commit thyself to the cause of the larger community or team. Balance mandates self-awareness and self-acceptance of our own behaviors rather than shaming or blaming others for situations and outcomes that were completely in our control. Our decisions and behaviors can make us gracious contributors to society or simply takers who sifen the good things out of the community or team.
Thank God that I lived to enjoy a quiet Saturday. Thank God that this Saturday gifts me the opporuitnity to sit and think about the balance between my life passion with the wide scale mission of my community and the place I work. I challenge my audience to do the same. Once that is accomplished, help me figure out how we use our balanced lives to model and promote balance in our communities and in our country.