By Charlotte Salafia
When I wrote my last article “I Just Can’t Say No”, I thought about some of the things that I have said yes to in my past. Some of the stuff that was using up my time was stuff that I wanted to do, I really didn’t want to say no.
I got invited to lead groups or take a position in a group or head up a program. I’d say yes because I did want to do it.
One of the things that cleared up my schedule was when I started to think about my motivation for accepting positions or offers to be in charge of something. I realized that the class I was teaching or the task I was doing was the result of two thoughts.
The first realization –
The first thing that I identified was the need to control things. That was a challenge for me to admit. I thought I had been working on that. I’m so much better now than I was in my young adult years because I felt my life was out of control so I found ways to control situations so that I wasn’t forced to change what I was doing to cause the chaos. I took charge of some processes because I wanted to be in the loop and I wanted to be able to control it. Now of course it did improve the process and then I was labored down with extra things to do because I had to have control. I had to send out the e-mail reminders because I wanted to be sure everyone got the news and that I was in the know before everyone else. Things felt a little unorganized in my group so I said I would take charge so while it was helpful… there was my need to control things.
The second realization –
I got significance by accepting some positions. I felt important that someone asked me to lead a class or take over a group or be the speaker for an event. I thought that it would make me stand out as a leader to accept certain positions and I would gain influence by doing some of these things. Sometimes I did have influence but it wasn’t the kind I truly desired. While I felt important at first I then figured out that it was just something else sucking up my time or that my heart wasn’t in it and that I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons.
What to do about it –
Each time I am asked to do something that will take a bit of my time, I ask myself “If I’m thinking of doing this, is it to feel important? Would I do it so I can control things?” It’s a tough question to ask but I do it because I want to be sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.
When I mentioned all this to a friend she set aside some time with me to talk about a dilema. I told her that I had figured out a way to decide if I want to take on a new task or not, big or small. When she called, she told me that she had been invited to head up a 2 year committee to transition a Frank Lloyd Wright property into a public space for people to visit. Well this friend LOVES Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and she also has 2 brick and mortar businesses and another business and a husband. Two years is quite an investment and she wanted to think about her reasons for doing it before she started. Now in her case, it was something she was passionate about and she wanted to help preserve this property and I believe she had the right reasons. However… she didn’t really have the time. She talked about how she has joined similar labor of love projects but at the end felt so worn down by the end of the project. Talking through it, she decided there was another option. She could offer to assist with the project but not have to lead the project. She could work on aspects of it that she chose and give the amount of time she could give rather than jump in with both feet and make a large commitment. She was happy with the outcome.
This isn’t to say that when you agree to do something, you aren’t going to get a certain sense of satisfaction or significance out of it. Giving organization to a project or a group is a good thing. It’s also alright to feel good about a job well done and even to receive recognition but if your ONLY reason or your MAIN reason is to control or to get significance, it may not be the project or position for you.
Is it a trophy? –
Receiving a trophy can be nice and it can also sit in a case and gather dust. What will that trophy represent? What will that certificate say about you? Will it simply be a participation award or will it be something you worked for and earned? Is the trophy a show off piece or does it have meaning?
As humans we all want to get something out of our lives, we want to be recognized for accomplishments and we all want a sense of purpose. It’s good to participate in groups and to give of ourselves and participate in life. Reviewing our motivation for accepting offers can save us a lot of time and effort. Finding balance isn’t always easy and yet you’ll find that if you look behind the curtain to find out what’s there you might be surprised at what you see.
So the next time you are asked to head up a project or lead a group, what questions will you ask yourself before you accept or decline?
SIDE NOTE — We caught up with Charlotte at a recent community event and have posted the interview below —
Charlotte Salafia is a Life Coach/NLP practitioner/Speaker. She studied communications and life coaching with the Human Communications Institute. She is also the author of the MomsWith A Passion Blog.