Sitting looking over the downtown Calgary cityscape late this morning, reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” – I was routinely interrupted by thoughts of what felt like passive self judgement passing through my mind.
“You should be working on something”
“Go outside and move”
“Come up with some ideas”
^^ Yes, that last one was word for word a thought that crossed my mind. Which then made me stop and laugh- as if my mind stating “come up with some ideas” was going to help me “come up with some ideas”. Ideas for what? Where was this pressure coming from? Why MUST I be doing something on my first (albeit scheduled) day off.
I’ve often stopped and thought to myself while working with training clients to think “it might actually be harder for this person if I asked them to pause and do nothing for a few minutes (or, the horror, a full 45-an hour) instead of pushing them physically”.
The last few days I’ve been networking away at Spruce Meadows and around Calgary, with the next few days bringing me to other areas Alberta. My first venture into out of province work for one of my businesses, RideWell Performance, and taking steps for myself to get uncomfortable again with networking, branding, and see how far I can go with my dreams. Rebranding RideWell over the winter was essentially an attempt to keep my brain busy while my other business, Integrative Movement, went through some expansions that required patience. Now, here in Calgary, with some free time and the bulk of the immediate work for now done, I sit scouring my brain for things to do.
My response to those thoughts? A conscious amusement and then a two hour nap.
Thankfully, it wasn’t hard for me to balance those judgement-like thoughts with things like “the knowledge you’re absorbing from this book is going to serve you later on”, “this rest will mean more energy for the rest of the week”, “you absolutely need a day like today to catch up after the last few weeks”, “my body says this is right and I know to listen to that”.
It’s been observed many times that entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, and business owners are always hustling. I mentioned last post about how I’ve come to cringe at being labelled a “hustler” or as someone who is “always on the grind”. I understand most people mean those labels as a positive thing, and are often incredulous when they hear about what entrepreneurs do routinely to chase down their goals.. but it also skews the optics of success towards burn out levels of time management. It also makes it difficult for, especially younger, self-starters to internally justify rest days, days to be human, and days to just chill t f out.
Was I doing nothing today? Absolutely not. I was reading, learning, and resting. It’s become absolutely crystal clear to me that business development and success largely depends, if not solely depends, on it’s leaders and teams personal development.
What makes or breaks brands in today’s world is the culture that surrounds them, and the association it’s customers makes between the people within the business and their goals.
I’ve had business owners and high level managers as clients both in terms of therapy and training- and while they have a higher tolerance for stress (positive and negative), they often struggle to monitor their inner dialogue around self care and compassion- and this feeds into their decisions around business and people management. It’s easy to look from the outside in and say “if you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to help others” but when you’re that person trying to do it all and be it all, the pressure can seem more then logic.
I think many of us have already learned the hard way that burning out, getting sick, or just getting discouraged by fatigue and pressure is REAL and is a real dream crusher. I’ve experienced more scary level moments of “why am I doing this” leading towards “I do not want to be doing this anymore” in the last couple years. Luckily for me, I have figured out a way to change my scenery up (both physically and mentally) when this happens to keep me obscenely passionate about what I do. Moments like this have forced me to be creative and pursue lateral thinking for all my ventures and the people within them. It’s why I’m in Calgary now, and it’s why some expansions have happened. However if I had followed the alternate route down a more negative burn out road- I might not be where I am now.
We’ve been conditioned as a society to always be on the go- to always be pushing for more. To the point where we’ve seen the birth of industries based around scheduled and invested in down time (think meditation classes, certain styles of yoga, spas, etc etc). These are not bad things- but why can’t we accept for ourselves a simple quiet day to develop in others ways, instead of what is perceived as “the hustle”.
The great Thomas Plummer said it well:
“What made you successful is often the very thing that prevents you from staying successful.”. Hard, endless pursuit of more needs to be contrasted with recovery, rest, and time spent inwards. Without that, you may find you lose the purpose behind what you think you want.
We do not HAVE to do anything. Not in the societies most of us live in, with the afforded comforts we’ve been given. There is ALWAYS a choice and choices do not have to be concrete. Doing or thinking something because it’s always been perceived to be the way things are, or because others around you are seemingly doing the same thing is not a reason to hold the same expectation for yourselves.. and, more then likely, those perceptions aren’t the entire reality. We all generally think and go through similar things- and rarely do you find judgment for taking care of yourself if you are honestly doing just that.
What does self-care and non-judgement towards yourself look like?