6:30am on a Monday, I got a text from my employee: “I have two sick kids at home. I will try to get them settled and jump on our weekly team meeting call. I will also move all of my clients today and get them rescheduled as soon as possible.”
I felt that text message. The exhaustion paired with the sense of self achievement of being able to do all the things. I felt it. I had two sick kids at home, too.
I replied: “Let’s skip team meeting. Take care of your babies and the clients and we’ll catch up next week.”
Could we have done it? Absolutely. We are two very high functioning women. We have been leaders of teams of people, while pregnant and breastfeeding, while traveling, and crushing it.
Both of us do this work because it’s meaningful to us, and because we wanted a more balanced life. We wanted a life corporate America wasn’t willing to offer us. So we did what high powered women do. We created our own high powered work that meets our needs.
Side Note: This is happening all over the country by the way. Check out the photo blog Humans of New York from last week. Corporate America, you better start solving problems for women in the workplace or you’ll be faced with a loving, but fierce take-over.
Back to my 6:30am text message. Realize Wellbeing does not perform heart surgery, we are not the nurses who keep watch over people at night, we are not the firefighters who keep vigil over our towns, we are not the police officers who ensure the safety of our communities. We do not provide any service that, if not performed that day, would cause harm to others.
The only reason for us to have a team meeting is to satisfy our own sense of self-efficacy.
I don’t need my employees to run themselves ragged so we all feel accomplished at the end of the day. We are already accomplished. Nothing on that week’s agenda couldn’t wait until next week.
Sadly though, I see people burning out left and right because of leaders who keep trying to outrun their competitors, their co-workers, and most importantly themselves. The majority of the workforce is made up of non-essential services, meaning no one will die if you don’t finalize the latest budget projections.
It’s time to take a breath. It’s time to remember that the branding campaign of the toilet paper you sell will still be a hit if it goes out tomorrow. It’s time to stop ruining people for the sake of elitism in the workplace.
I once asked a CHRO what was the most profound thing she had ever done for her well-being. She said it was having boundaries around her calendar.
Do you feel that? I bet a lot of you feel that. Imagine. Once you’re done dreaming and feeling how glorious that would be, know that there are leaders who have done it. And when they did, it was not only life giving to themselves, but to their employees. It’s your responsibility as a leader to remember that if you’re drowning, you are taking them down with you. They are on the ship you are captaining.