As I start this piece I don't really know who I'm writing it to. Maybe it's just to myself. Maybe every one of you will relate in some way. That's what I hope.
Driving home a bit ago I had an entire discussion with myself on this topic. I jumped online when I got home and here I am. Trying to get my thoughts out.
I wonder who else feels like their best isn't good enough. I wonder how my agency friends feel, as they fight the battle to grow their business and survive. I wonder how my team feels, as they do their best to solve for clients every day. I wonder what other parents feel, as they fight to raise their children in today's world.
I wonder how I'm ever going to get a place where I feel like I have it all under control.
Do you ever feel like you're really on top of things?
The world is spinning pretty fast for me these days. I feel like I'm constantly inundated by 5-10x more stuff than I can keep up with. I have a family and an agency. I have hobbies, friends, and a calendar that's always as full as possible. Every minute of my life is scheduled, and I rarely have as much time as I'd like for any one thing.
My phone buzzes at me non-stop. I'm always in a hurry to get to work a little earlier, pick my kids up from practice, make it to their games, or make it home for dinner on time once or twice in a week.
My clients always need me. My family always need me. My employees always need me. I always need more time with my friends. And I never feel like I'm doing good enough. I never feel like I'm balancing it all well enough or serving all of the relationships to the extent they deserve. You ever feel like that?
Maybe you feel like you're failing
I sure have my highs and lows. Some days I feel like I'm winning, most days I don't. Sometimes I feel like no matter what I do, it's going to be wrong. You ever feel like that?
Maybe you feel like everyone is a critic
I tell you what, nothing I do or say pleases everyone.
"You were to vague"
"That will never work"
"Why didn't you do it this way?"
"We want more ___"
"You don't do enough ___"
"That's just not good enough"
"I don't appreciate the way you __"
"Your proposal had too much information"
"Your proposal didn't have enough information"
"You're a terrible person"
"I need more from you"
"Slow down, speed up, more, less, more"
Holy shit. My head hurts. I'm trying my best, I promise. I'm aware of the problem, and my best people are working on it (too bad that seems like just me). If I were smart, I would have just let you do it. If I was better, my answers would be better too. You ever feel like that?
Maybe you feel like you're getting screwed around
It really sucks to be betrayed. Especially by people you trust. The last year was laden with those for me. A few employees and an important partner have really let me down. I thought we had a deal. I thought I was doing my part faithfully, and I feel pretty burned. I feel like people weren't as transparent with me as I was with them. I feel like they betrayed my trust and deep investment in them. You ever feel like that?
Maybe you feel like the deck is stacked against you
Sometimes I feel like I'm not supposed to succeed. Like every time I get a few steps of momentum that something trips me up. Like the universe just doesn't want to make it easy on me. Like the Lord needs me to go through pain in order to get better. You ever have that feeling?
Maybe you feel like everyone wants a piece of you
Sometimes I feel like someone wants me to do something for them, no matter where I turn. They need more help. They need more money. They need more accessibility. They need more transparency. They need more access. They need more one on one time. They need more billing. They need more salary. They need me to listen more. They need me to tell them what to do. They need me to do things by the book. They need more opportunity. You ever feel like people want more from you than you're able to give?
Maybe you feel like you can't spend enough time with anyone
Man, I wish I had more time to hang out with my kids. I don't spend near enough time with my wonderful wife. I miss my friends, all of them. All of my employees deserve more time from me. I wish I could find more time for my clients. I wish I could build new relationships more often. You ever feel like that?
Maybe you feel like you're spending your time in the wrong places
I feel like it's impossible to prioritize, truly. There's always an opportunity cost of my time and I find myself feeling guilty any time I do something just for me. I can't really stand relaxing because I feel like I'm letting someone down. Your ever have that feeling?
Maybe you feel like winning shouldn't be this hard
Isn't success supposed to feel good? How can I feel so bad when things actually work out in my favor? Shouldn't I take a minute to appreciate everything I have? Of course I should, I have so much to be thankful for. So why is that so hard? You ever feel like it's harder to win these days?
Maybe you don't know what to do, when everyone expects you to
As someone who chose to be in a leadership position, I know people depend on me. My decisions, actions, and behavior affects a lot of people. Sometimes I'm probably way over my head. I can think of about 100 of those as a parent. I can certainly think of a lot as an entrepreneur and manager. So many people need me to be great so they can be great. Do you ever find yourself feeling like you're not worthy of those expectations?
Maybe you feel like you need some grace
Wouldn't the benefit of the doubt be nice once in a while? The world doesn't seem to have a lot of forgiveness in it these days. People's careers get ruined for the simplest and silliest of mistakes. The mob is alive and well, and looking to destroy anyone they disagree with. Doesn't everyone deserve some grace once in a while? I feel like everyone deserves more grace.
Maybe you need to extend some grace
If you can, extend some grace to others even when they don't deserve it. That's the definition of grace, I think. I've always struggled not to figure out forgiveness, grace, and judgement. It seems like our society is teaching us that passing judgement is better than extending grace. Do you ever struggle with this stuff?
What do we all need more of?
I don't know what you need, but I know I feel a little of all of these things at different times. I'm not complaining, I love what I do. I love who I do it with. I love everything we're about and I'm proud of all we've achieved. But it just never feels good enough. I never feel good enough.
At some point I think we all have to realize that we're never going to feel capable. Others are never going to have absolute confidence in us. We're never going to have everyone agree with us. We're never going to be right all the time. We're never going to be able to be everything, to everyone. We just have to be ourselves. And we should always try to do our best. If that's not good enough, fuck 'em.
My advice? Teflon bitches
We have to let shit roll off of us if we're going to maintain our sanity, maybe even reach our goals. We have to have tough skin, let water roll off our back, and be Teflon at times. We have to see the bigger picture, keep believing in what we're doing, and trudge forward. We can't let the lows get us down, and can't let the highs make us complacent. We have to stay focused on the prize. And all of our prizes are different.
What are your fighting and what do you want?
For me, those goals are pretty clear. I want to be the best son of God, Husband, Father, Leader, Boss, and Friend I can be. I want to build a great agency that others respect, with an amazing team that solves (with excellence), for our clients. I want to do it with a team that's fun to be around, plays hard, and works even harder. I want to balance it all perfectly, and have exactly enough time for everyone. Oh yeah, and I always want to give the perfect input. All from the heart, of course.
- What are your goals?
- How do you fight through the hate?
- How do you keep your sanity?
- Where do you struggle?
As I end this piece I hope this gets a conversation started. I hope this makes you reflect. I hope this makes you open up. I hope this helps you tear down whatever you're up against.
And I wish you all the best.