Our Greatest Super-Power
Yesterday a college friend posted a great reminder on Facebook:
“Today, I am going to try to be pleased with the things that I get done, and not agonize about the things I don’t get done. Same coin, 2 sides.”
I think the reason this sang out to me so clearly is that it’s something many of us struggle with – especially this time of year. There’s just not enough of us to go around and we can’t possibly get it all done because “it” is limitless. We’re pushing ourselves to the brink at work, trying to get it all done before year-end, while in our “free time” we have to get the tree, light the candles, buy presents, attend parties, look festive, navigate childcare, fit in parent-teacher-conferences (is it just me or does it feel like our kids are out of school every week?), send cards, volunteer, donate, keep up with the Jones’, and be merry-merry-happy-happy all the while.
One of the games we often play at my house, around the dinner table or on road-trips, is “If you could have one super-power, what would it be?” And we’ll toss about having x-ray vision, or being able to fly, or being invisible, or having Herculean-strength, and fantasize about how that will make our lives so much easier. And yet, when I think about it this morning, the greatest super-power in the world is accessible to all of us, yet we forget we even have it.
The power to choose.
For it is agony indeed, to attempt to get it all done, when “it” falls out of obligation instead of choice.
There are those quotes to which I return, year-after-year, in attempt to re-center myself. And as I pulled out my dog-eared copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, a treasured gift filled with delicious quotes from a dear friend years ago, as if by magic I turned right to the page I was seeking.
“It is not only our right at certain times to say ‘no’; it is our deepest responsibility. For it is a gift to ourselves when we say ‘no’ to those old habits that dissipate our energy, ‘no’ to what robs us of our inner joy, ‘no’ to what distracts us from our purpose. And it is a gift to others to say ‘no’ when their expectations do not ring true for us. Saying ‘no’ can be liberating when it expresses our commitment to take a stand for what we believe we truly need.” – John Robbins and Ann Mortifee, In Search of Balance: Discovering Harmony in a Changing World
But of course, this requires that we know what we truly need.
Do you? Do you know what you truly need?
The impact we’re having on ourselves, for not choosing – on our health and well-being, on our ability to do excellent work, on our ability to see and savor all that we have to be grateful for – is obvious. But we forget our ripple effect.
The impact on our families. How do you want your kids to remember you during the holidays? As a stress-ball?
The impact on our direct reports, as we model expected behaviors.
The impact on our clients, as important details fall through the cracks.
The impact on our company cultures, as our work-spaces are filled with tension instead of holiday cheer.
Look, I’m not saying, “Go toss your responsibilities aside and spend your days shopping and drinking eggnog!” but I do encourage all of us to seriously evaluate what we choose to take on. Because we do have a choice.
What do you truly need? For real?
Use your super-powers!