It was the late 2000s and work for me was do or die. If I wasn’t able to build a company, team, product then it was clear that I was doomed to be a failure. My story was that I only had one choice and that was to engage in a life or death battle to prove myself in my struggle to create something in this world and failure was not an option So what did I do? I doubled down and pushed myself with the tools that I had at the time, hurting, enduring and believing that somehow things would shift for me. They didn’t and I burned out hard.
What happened here? What was coming up that created this moment? Would I do the same thing again? Many years have passed and it’s clear to me now that I was bundling up my feelings of self-worth with my work. I changed creation to be about me and not about what I was trying to create. It was strong fuel for the fire but it did a lot of damage along the way. Some of the negative effects for me were:
Feeling like an imposter
Poor perspective on how I was performing
Thinking back I have learned a number of helpful lessons along the way which I wish I had learned before I had that experience.
Self check ins:
Create space to reflect on what your daily experience is like. Are you thriving? Just holding on? Do you hate your days? Making this space will allow you to orient yourself to your experience. Everyday there are so many things vying for your attention that it’s easy to bury yourself in all of them and not create space for yourself. One tool I’ve used in the past is a 5-minute journal. This can help you orient yourself before you launch into your day. Building an awareness and locating where you are is the first step in trying to change your experience in the world.
I hadn’t built a strong support network around me back in the last 2000s. It really did feel like me going it alone. I’ve learned that it helps a tremendous amount to have support. This can be from peers, friends, family and coaches. Having someone that can help you gain perspective is invaluable in being able to have a stronger team. Seek someone out to help build stronger awareness and be a sounding board as you are working through your ideas and feelings.
Stories are powerful:
The narrative that you have learned over your life is incredibly powerful. They help to drive your behavior and most likely served you well in some previous moment. I found it freeing to name and accept the story that was driving me. It allowed me to start to construct a new story that served me better. Once you start realizing that your story is different from who you are, you are no longer trapped by it and you can live more in line with who you truly are.
Hard Work does matter:
Regardless of what your narrative is, your hard work really does matter. Caring about something and putting in effort isn’t going to detract from your enjoyment and will likely help to create more meaning through what you are bringing into existence. Growing up in the midwest and having a father that grew up on a farm I definitely had ingrained into me the value of hard work. Nowadays this tends to show up as knowing when the work serves me and my cause well vs just being busy work or not in alignment with my values.