A lesson in overwhelm management.
I know. It sounds harsh. To be fired is probably one of the worst feelings a person can experience. Not just from jobs. Ever been fired from a relationship? But, to be fired from a job is different, too. It seems to say, “You’re incompetent, as well as unwanted,” all in the same breath. So why, dear reader, did I fire my wife?
That’s a decent question, but the better one is, “From what did I fire my wife?”
What, Not Why
So, here’s the deal: Baby is phenomenal at whatever she decides she’s going to do. I truly mean that. So phenomenal, in fact, that she will undertake mission after mission, until how thin she has spread herself can’t even be detected. Like dignity in a presidential campaign – it’s like she’s not even there.
It was from one of these missions that I happen to be involved in that I needed to fire her. See, I know her priority list. And while she’s passionate about this mission – perhaps more so than even I am – she had other passions that were higher on the priority list that she was neglecting, and that was overwhelming her.
I believe overwhelm happens when you push higher priority items down the list to perform the lower priority items, first. Why would you do this? Lots of reasons. (Maybe you don’t want to let someone down, for whom this item is the highest priority?) This builds pressure, because you know in the back of your mind that you are neglecting that which is most important. Think about it: If you’re doing exactly what you feel is the single most important thing you could be doing – are you overwhelmed? Or do you feel so righteously on-purpose that it doesn’t matter how “busy” you are, you can handle it?
If you’re doing exactly what you feel is the most important thing you could be doing, are you overwhelmed? No.Share!
Meanwhile, Baby was not in that space. She was in the other, more pressurized, less-on-purpose task. And, the day that Baby, under all the pressure that she’s put on herself, finally cracks is a sad one, indeed. So, I decided to head it off at the pass. After a mere 11 or so years of marriage, I’ve been able to detect when Baby’s internal seismograph is trembling, and in this case it was basically doing the jitterbug. She was about to lose it. Krakatoa was about to blow. Hellfire was about to rain from the heavens and the seas were in a tumult!
So, I fired her.
I remember, I actually had to get quite stern with her. Being a scorpio fire tiger means she’s liable to take a vicious swipe at me when she feels her agenda is threatened. Threatened it was, but I couldn’t back down! The state of the world was at stake!
I said, “You’re out! We’re going in different directions. We’re letting you off at this stop. We’re downsizing. You’re being let go. We’re Paris Hilton’ing your role, here.”
I apologized to the rest of the team, and informed them that Baby would no longer be a part of our plans moving forward. They all expressed their dismay, but there’s only so much time I’ll allow the team to mope and dope over spilt Baby.
Life After Overwhelm
Look, if you don’t have anyone to go to bat for you like Baby did in this way (watch, as I climb upon my very high horse and ride around for the rest of this sermon) then you’re going to have to go to bat for yourself.
Sure, you might be passionate. You might have overextended yourself. You might think you have the ability to keep it all together, but try to take an objective look at the situation. Because if you blow, you’re no good to anyone. You’re not incompetent.
So, let this be a little reminder for the rest of us to maintain a firm priority list, even in the little things. Everything you say ‘yes’ to, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Just make sure you’re saying ‘yes’ to the right things. If you consistently do that, then there is no overwhelm. There’s no possibility because if your priorities are in order, you will have been taking care of all the important things (yourself included) at the appropriate times to enable you to give yourself to the other important things on the list.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider firing yourself from one of the tasks. Life will go on.