Stop Stealing From Peter to Pay Paul


My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. I’m lying in the middle of the lawn, staring up into the blue sky. I probably am crazy, but I need this. I pick a handful of grass and smell it, letting it take me back to the care free days of childhood when, like the giggling children in the next yard over, life was carefree. I have a long list of adult things I should be doing, but I need this. I need rest… a moment to just exist. It holds back the tsunami of life. Sadly, for many entrepreneurs, dreamers, and highly motivated individuals, burnout is just par for the course. It doesn’t have to be the norm, however. The problem lies not in the amount of work required to reach your goals, but in the balancing of this work with other needs.

Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", presented a neatly organized pyramid which he called the “hierarchy of needs”. At the bottom of the pyramid are the very basics of human needs: food, water, warmth, rest, safety, and security. The next levels are the psychological needs: a sense of belonging to family and friends, and an esteem of capability and accomplishment. At the very top of the pyramid is what Maslow calls self-actualization needs. This includes creative endeavors and living up to one’s full potential.

There’s been a lot of internet chatter about “finding your calling” or “living out your purpose” in the past decade. There’s this sense that if you don’t become rich and famous, you’ve failed. And so we scramble hard to find our passion, put all our energy into it, and get our list of accomplishments checked off. This striving is our human drive for that top level of human fulfillment. It is self-actualization when we become what we were always meant to be. The trouble lies, not in pursuing the fulfillment of this need, but in neglecting our other needs in the process. There is a reason Maslow placed every other human need under the self-actualization needs. They are the support system to our passions and endeavors.

As you steadily march forward toward the fulfillment of your dreams, conquering steps of action along the way, make sure you’re also maintaining your simplest of human needs.

Basic Needs

Food & Water: Don’t let your busy schedule keep you from eating. It’s important to keep your brain and body fueled while you work hard. On the flip side, do not let stress from the number of items on your to-do list drive you to overeating or eating only high-calorie foods. Also, take time throughout the day to stay hydrated. Keeping a water bottle with you at all times may help. I get glass of water between each appointment in my day.

Rest: Remember when you learned in grade school that you need 8 hours of sleep each night? The exact number of minutes may vary, but the average adult still needs a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night for optimal functioning. Tigger, a character from the preschool show Super Sleuths, once quipped, “What’s the fun in sleeping? It’s just lying there with your eyes closed.” Oh but Tigger! It is so much more!

As you sleep, your brain cleans house, removing toxins and byproducts that could lead to medical issues such as Alzheimer’s.* While you’re catching Zzzs, every muscle in your body relaxes and your organ functions slow to a minimum, allowing them to rebuild and rest. Sleep also cuts down the level of adrenaline coursing through your veins, giving you a break from the fight or flight instinct. Studies have shown that not logging enough hours of sleep will trigger your body to crave high calorie foods to fuel the sluggish body, which in turn leads to weight gain. Getting enough sleep can help regulate your diet.

In addition to sleep, take breaks throughout the day to just unplug and chill. Lay out in your front lawn and pick grass or sip your coffee for five minutes while staring out a window. Remember, your body is the only true tool you have for fulfilling your aspirations. If your body fails, so will your dreams.

Safety: Our primitive ancestors fought for mere survival every day. The very land they lived upon, and the creatures inhabiting it, threatened their very lives on a consistent basis. Because of human innovation, we’ve overcome those dangers, and unless you live in a current war zone, you typically do not face life and death situations on a daily basis. These innovations, however, require maintenance.

The homes we live in give us physical safety from the outside world. If you neglect the care of your home, it’s magical shield of protection will soon fade. Filth leads to disease. Disrepairs lead to leaks and structural damages. Overgrown yards attract insects, snakes, and other creatures. Make sure you schedule in time to care for your home or hire out what you can.

Another important factor of our modern safety is financial security. In our modern era, money is what meets the majority of our human needs. It pays for our shelter, our food, our water, our socialization, and our aspirations. As you’re considering risks and costs needed to reach your highest goals, calculate the dollar amount needed to meet the basic physical and psychological needs for yourself and your family. Then keep a protective hand on that amount. Never steal from your lower level needs to cover the cost of your higher level needs.

Psychological Needs

Belongingness: From the very beginning of your existence, you were connected to another human being. It is hard wired into our biology to want and need human connection. As you dedicate more and more time to your success, guard your family time and social life. You need the intimacy of connecting with those most important to you. Make it a point to always have dinner as a family at several times a week. Schedule regular nights with your partner. Attend important events in your children’s lives. Take them out for ice cream just because. Be intentional about spending time with close friends. They need it. You need it. Humans need it.

Esteem: We all need a sense of self-worth. From the very beginning of our human journey, we have encountered things we can’t do or things we’re not particularly skilled at. We tend to focus so strongly on our failures at that we cannot see just how very capable we truly are. Gather around yourself a person or two who truly believes in you. One who will point out your abilities and accomplishments and worth in this world. One who is not wearied when you need reminded over and over again. Let their encouragements soak in and then believe them, because they’re true. As your self-confidence grows, there is no end to what you can truly accomplish.

With the proper physical and psychological support, you can give what it takes to reach the pinnacle of self-actualization.


3 Steps to Success Under Challenging Management


Wouldn’t it be nice if a job search was more like online shopping?

You have a general idea in mind of what you want, so you log on to “Jobmazon.com” and browse the management personalities available in the job category you’re interested in. You get a photo, a description, and various reviews. With so many options, the boss you receive is totally up to you.

Narcissistic Nick – Nick will be completely absorbed with his own goals and success. He will take all praise and reflect all blame on you. If you hint at a fault, he will respond in anger. When the higher ups are present, he will direct all attention to himself and make you out to be nothing but a bothersome necessity. He has only one career goal: “My success above yours”.

Demanding Deb – Deb has a square head on her shoulders and knows what needs to be done to complete a job, but she will never be satisfied with your output. It won’t matter how many hours you pour into her project or how high the quality of your results, it will not be enough for her. She will demand more and more.

Indecisive Ian – Ian is constantly second guessing every move. He’ll get you started on a project only to change his mind when you’re half finished. If you present him with a problem and request guidance for solving it, he will talk through every option twice.

Stonewall Jackson – Jack is mostly a great boss, helpful and considerate, but any time he becomes overwhelmed or frustrated, he will go silent. He will refuse to answer his phone, reply to texts, or even acknowledge that you are talking to him. He enters the dark abyss of noncommunication.

Human Hannah – Hannah is a motivated individual, understanding what’s required for the success of the company. She tries her very best, but is also quick to take responsibility when she makes mistakes. She understands that those above her and beneath her are human, just as she is, and treats them with respect and understanding.

With choices like these, you’re bound to find the perfect job with the type of boss you work best with. Unfortunately, that never happens and often we find ourselves under a difficult personality, leaving us frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry. What then?

Here are three suggestions that may help you not only cope, but succeed under difficult people.

1.    Find their strengths. It may seem that some people have only negative traits, but if you really look close, you can typically find something about them that has a positive effect on the success of the company.

Nick may be self-absorbed, but while he’s feeding his ego, he’s also pushing the company into greater success. Deb may be a pain in the butt to work for, but her team gets things done. Her team gets noticed. Ian may be indecisive, but he does think a plan through before implementing it. Jack may become silent from time to time, but when he is not overwhelmed, he is great to work for.

2.    Use their positive trait to your career advantage. Play their game, so to speak. There is a bit of healthy strategy that must take place for success to become reality. It is a strategic use of circumstances though and not a maniacal manipulation of people.

Help Nick succeed and let his success pull you up to higher success of your own. When the time is right, you will get your chance to ensure the CEOs see the worth of your efforts. Make yourself an invaluable asset to Deb’s projects. Be the most valuable player on the most valuable team. Present ideas and solutions to Ian in a way that makes him feel as if he confidently chose it himself. This relieves stress for him and makes you a trusted advisor. Find ways to take some of the weight off Jack’s shoulders. When you sense he is reaching the frustrated state, step in and take lead on some of the minor issues.

3.    Take a look in the mirror. While some bosses truly have difficult personalities, others may simply be reacting to your difficult personality trait. Are there attitudes or quirks that make them feel you disrespect them or do not have the company’s success in mind? If there are things you need to change, be humble enough to change them.

With a little bit of thought and healthy strategic thinking, you can turn a difficult management issue into a stepping stone to personal and professional success.

Want to talk with someone about your career? Schedule a 30 – minute session here.