Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You Versus You - Who's Winning?

"We miss life's greatest opportunities not because of our inability to negotiate with others, but because we can't negotiate with ourselves."  - Erica Ariel Fox

At the recent 20th anniversary of the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, those words from Session Five Speaker Erica Ariel Fox cut through me like a fine ginsu knife.

Ms. Fox started her talk with those words and while I did hear and retain many other great points from her talk, those words reverberated in my heart since that day.

Being the typical type-A personality who has recently discovered many of her deeply introverted characteristics, understanding and managing myself has been (and continues to be) the greatest challenge of my life. Even as a wife, mom, entrepreneur and public servant, managing my own heart/will and subsequent actions is my greatest feat every single day.

I often look at my "performance gap," which Fox described as the distance between what you ideally want to do when you living your best life versus what you actually do in real life. And while I mind that gap pretty closely, it is indeed still a gap. Here are three actions I find helpful in closing my game and winning the battle of you versus you:


I absolutely crave and need solitude. Daily. Each day, I start the day in a raggedy yet comfortable green chair in my family room. Whether it's reading or praying or just being still - and it's really all three - I do not start many days without my "me" time. Solitude is my best place to hear from God. It is the time I hear myself as well. I tap into my deepest desires each day in the quiet. I reflect on the good, bad and everything in between in the wee hours of the morning when no one else is moving. I have also scheduled "me" time away from my house. When I was writing my first fiction book, I went away for a night to a hotel to finish it. Being alone really stimulates good and ways for me to look closely at who I am versus who I want to be.

Wise Counsel

Not a day goes by that I do not seek out wise counsel from a variety of sources.  From my posse of fellow elected women officials to my very best social worker friend from college, I look for opportunities to hear from others about how I'm doing. I also have a personal board of directors. This unpaid but richly compensated group serve as a sounding board for my ideas, dreams, frustrations and battles. There are baby boomers and millenials. Spanish speaking folks and black folks. Gays and straights and of course, men and women. This very diverse and eclectic group has a cornucopia of knowledge between them. Yet, they all know me well and I know each of them well. That mutual trust and confidence gives me the ability share my heart and expect theirs in their words and deeds.

Own It 

The buck stops with me. I own my every move. Right or wrong, I take responsibility. That gives me the freedom to truly go for all I desire because in the end, it's all on me. This is especially true in my dealings with others.  Even as self-aware as I am, it is very easy to look at others as I maneuver through life.  A client. A spouse. A child. Another parent. People do impact our lives and our ability to get where we want to go. No denying that. However, our own responsibility trumps all others. We own our actions and reactions. We own our feelings and behaviors. And until we truly embrace that ownership, we will find ourselves with a larger gap between the life we want and the life we have.

While the battle rages, I can honestly say, the "me I want to be" wins more often than the shadow me. And by making space to be with me, seeking wise counsel and owning my journey - I am certain I'll continue to negotiate well with me. And win.

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