One of my character traits is to always strive for excellence (some may say I’m an “overachiever”… I mean, whatever). I have often said yes to things, not because I am going to get something out of it or it really plays to my values, but because I don’t want to let the other person/organisation down. But I have been taking some tough medicine lately and I am learning is that being good at what you do, giving back to your community and kicking epic goals is not the same as being busy (read: over-committed). Ooof. Now that was a tough pill to swallow.
I was listening to an episode of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast* recently where she interviews America Ferrera. Brené asks all her guests a series of “rapid fire” questions at the end of each episode. One of my favourites is “what’s one piece of leadership advice that you have been given that is either so great you need to share it with us, or so shit that you need to warn us?” America answered with “learn how to allocate the resource of you.”
I have yet to meet a single rural woman that has one identity or role. Wife, mother, sister, daughter, employee, employer, business owner, book keeper, committee member, cook, house keeper, escort driver, rouseabout… the list seems to be endless. As women, we bundle up all of these sub-identities into one person and have to navigate through the responsibilities each of these roles come with, and figure out how to deliver with the limited time that we have.
Something that I am realising is that, while many of us are incredibly busy, those who are the happiest and most content have learned the power of saying no. They have worked out what their values are and only commit to the things that serve them. They realise that there is only one of them yet they play multiple roles, and if they overcommit to one role then their ability to be present and contribute to their other roles diminishes. They aren’t better at managing their time – they have given themselves the gift of time by saying no, freeing up the space to do things they love or serves purpose. When we are overcommitted, more often than not, it is the role that feeds our soul and makes us happy that suffers.
A really good example for women in the farming business is the role of book keeper. More often than not, we say yes to doing the books (or we are simply expected to do them) because it is a fairly straightforward task and it is something that your mother or mother-in-law did. Why pay someone else to do the books when we (read: wife) can just do them? But the job is BORING! It is the one thing always left until the last minute, finished off once the kids are in bed or on a Sunday that could have been better spent with family or friends.
It is time for us all to realise that you are not going to let anyone but yourself down if you take on another role. As a coach said to me recently, “it is time to give yourself the gift of time”. Giving yourself space to breathe and relax gives your body a break and your mind the ability to think, learn and be creative. It allows you to spend time and truly connect with loved ones. Time allows you to be the best version of yourself in the roles that you decide serve you.
- *Do yourself a favour and listen to every episode of Dare to Lead. You can get all episodes on Spotify. I get so impatient waiting for the new episodes to come out because they are so Game. Changing.