Today I had one of those “AHA moments” about my own leadership journey. It came during one of the sessions with the SOS Gr8 Women Leaders Program when Heather McKissick, CEO of Leadership Austin and a long-time mentor of mine, shared her perspectives on leadership and personal growth.
Heather talked about the “all or nothing mentality” we sometimes get into as leaders. We think we have to do it all; we try to be all things to all people. We allow ourselves to buy into the notion that we can please everyone. Have you ever been there? I certainly have. I have mental images of myself in a Superwoman cape, and I fly off triumphantly into the sunset. Okay, not really. But I do get fired up about a lot of things, and I truly want to do them ALL well. I want to be the best wife and mother, the best at my job, the best professor, the best blogger, the best volunteer, the best advocate, the best runner (cyclist, triathlete, or whatever fitness kick I’m on), the best _____________ (insert 50 other goals here). And where does all this motivation lead me?
I get tired. Or overwhelmed. Or sick. Or all of the above at once. And then I have nothing left. In those moments, I curse myself for trying to do it all AND for not being able to do it all. I look around at others who seem to have it all together and think I’m not as strong as they are. It is then that I want to do nothing. I want to retreat from it all, to go into my cave and hibernate. I need a break. (And sometimes, during my lowest moments, I blame others for my “crash and burn.” I can’t see the reality of the situation that I created, and I want it to be someone else’s fault.)
In these moments, I also remember a quote I share often, “Those who do not make time for relaxation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” (John Wanamaker) How often I share this quote shows my core belief that, “We teach what we most need to learn.”
All of this links directly to something incredibly profound that my Dad, who has wisdom about so many things, often says to me, “You can have it all. Just not all at the same time.”
Today Heather talked about the “all or nothing mentality,” and something clicked. This is not an all or nothing proposition. There’s a balance I’m seeking and still trying to find in my life. I’m searching for the right balance of what matters most TO ME, without comparing myself to anyone else and without beating myself up when I don’t attain an unrealistic standard that I set for myself. I am on a journey and am making measurable progress. I am learning and growing. I am striving to become a better version of myself, and when I look in the mirror, I am in awe of how far I’ve come. And, in this moment, I still know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the best is yet to come!
Read Heather’s incredible article, Three Ingredients in the Secret Sauce of Resilient Leadership, to get more perspective from someone who truly walks her talk and commits herself to ongoing growth and learning.
**After re-reading this blog a number of times, I smiled when I realized that this blog is a continuation of what I shared in the book I recently co-wrote with my father and brother, “Retreat to Success: Living Your Life on Purpose.” My character in the book is nicknamed Superwoman, and the book describes my journey toward discovering my purpose. This journey involves learning (time and again) that I’m not Superwoman, but I am called to be a leader – at home, at work, and in the community. The journey continues. Thanks for being a part of it.