Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and on one of those trips I had the pleasure of visiting a college friend and her family.  In addition to the general awesomeness of hanging out with people I adore, she also introduced me to my new favorite proverb:

Image Credit: Ashley of BaddestMotherEver.com

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in other people’s decisions, or to feel somehow responsible for “fixing” problems where, not only do I have little to no influence, but often outside advice is not helpful or welcome.

So I’m closing down my unsolicited circus-consulting business and  redoubling my efforts to spend my time and energy making what goes on inside my own three-ring circus the greatest show on earth.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

An Alternative to Hierarchical Leadership

English: From Left: Spc. Christopher Hickey, S...

These guys need a chain of command.  Your family probably doesn’t.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every now and again someone goes on television to talk about how her husband is the head of her household and she loves that because it’s the only thing that makes sense. After all we only have one President, and the military works in a hierarchy so obviously that’s just how leadership works.

Normally I see these stories and roll my eyes or make yakking noises in the privacy of my own home. If I’m feeling really worked up, I treat my partner to a monologue on why comparing the management of a family to the management of the world’s largest economy is ridiculous.

I did all those things this time as well, but after I calmed down a bit it occurred to me that while some families choose a “decider” on purpose, others do so because uncertainty is almost as uncomfortable as conflict and designating someone to make all the decisions is a quick and easy way to minimize the discomfort caused by disagreements.

If you chose to run your family that way because it makes everyone happy, knock yourself out.*

If, however, you are defaulting to letting the loudest person in your house make decisions because you believe that’s the only way to avoid knock-down, drag-out fights that result in doing what the loudest person wants anyway, consider this alternative. Continue reading

Push on the Pull Door

FarSideIn public buildings if a door is labeled pull, the only way to open it is by following the stated direction. Pushing is only going to make you look foolish.

What is true of doors is not necessarily true anywhere else. There is nothing wrong with following the directions the first time around, but if you’ve been diligently pulling on a problem waiting for the door to open, it might be time to push.*

Your Turn

We want to hear from you! When has your forward progress required you to break the (written or unwritten) rules?

*conversely, if you’ve been pushing and pushing and the door won’t open, try following the conventional path. Sometimes the man is not out to trip you up.

What could you stop doing?

This post is reprinted from my weekly try-it e-mail series.  If you like it, sign-up here to have each week’s exercise delivered straight to your inbox.

Have you noticed how easy it is to add something new to your schedule? One more client, one more project, one more meeting. Each new thing on its own seems inconsequential, so in a burst of enthusiasm (or guilt) we say yes.

Then we wonder why we feel so tired all the time.

Normally this is where you would expect a lesson on learning to say “no.” That’s good advice, and we’ll probably cover it one of these weeks, but for now I’m asking you to do something different. Continue reading

Want to Try Something New?

As some of you know, I dumped my monthly newsletter in June to try a new experiment.  So far, it’s working out pretty well so I’m sharing it with you here.  If it sounds like fun, I’d love to have you subscribe.  If it sounds like something you could modify for your own work, feel free to “steal” the idea and run with it! 

I’ve noticed a recent trend in the way I read my e-mail: I rarely make it to the end of long messages.

Maybe my attention span is starting to go, or maybe it’s because I read so much of my e-mail on my phone, but whatever the reason, after about 300 words, I close the message telling myself I’ll come back to it “later.”

Except, later usually means never.

It occurred to me that if I feel that way about e-mail you might be noticing that same problem with say, e-mail newsletters with “monthly on-line communications advice.”

To that end, I’ve decided to try something new. Instead of sending one long article each month, I’d like to send you a short “prompt” each week.

One week’s e-mail might include a short challenge designed to help you improve your social media presence. The next week it could be an activity to help you get out of your own way, overcome resistance, or be nicer to yourself.

The unifying factor is that each one will invite you to take a simple (if not easy) step just outside your current comfort zone, in order to help move you just a little closer to your goals.

Oh, and each message will be short enough to read on your phone between meetings.

Sound like fun?  Click here to subscribe!

Need some convincing?  Check out a couple of the messages you’ve missed.