Taking Responsibility - What is important?
As you rest quietly for a couple of moments, reading this, I'd like to share with you a story that has helped some of my clients in the past, and one which I'd like to share with you.
"John had a very good job with an large insurance company and he had a lot of colleagues working with him whom he regarded as friends, people he would often socialise with and who came to dinner parties at his home. He has a very good social life infact.
John was very good at his job and often he would be able to help others with his knowledge and his enthusiasm. Because he worked with people who he regarded as friends, he felt very much that he had a duty to help them in any way that he could. He would sort out his friends' problems because he had a confidence in his own abilities and thought that he could do this so much better than they could.
He spent a great deal of his time and energy putting the mistakes and omissions of others to rights, ensuring in this way that they would not suffer from their lack of ability and enthusiasm and lose for the company valuable business and reputation. He defended their mistakes and even covered up for them using his own time and energy to visit clients on their behalf to ensure contracts were finalised.
His friends did very well by him. He worked long hours and took on the stress and the pressure in making absolutely sure that he did all he could to help them. After all these people were his friends and true friends will always make sacrifices for those who they care about.
He failed to take much notice at first, of the growing and constant headaches, the tiredness, and of the fact that he had become so short tempered, snapping at his wife and children for no good reason.
He was not too much concerned that the sexual side of his marriage was now almost non-existent and that his family life seemed to be sliding down a long and slippery slope of constant rows and upsets. His smile had gone, his energy spent, and he spent longer and longer hours at the office stuggling to complete the immense workload that he had almost enitrely forgotten was not his but that of others.
I wonder if you can imagine his feelings when one day he was called into his CEO's office, to be told that a review of personal performance figures had shown that he was producing less business and was now below the rest of the people in his management team. The promotion that he had been expecting would not be his, that his performance would be monitored and reviewed on a monthly basis and that he was at risk of losing his postition if his performance did not improve.
He went back to his desk, very upset and confused. After all, he knew his job so well and had worked harder and longer than anyone else in the office.
He then discovered that the friend who he helped most, who he had carried and covered for, whose mistakes he had rectified, was the one who had received the promotion that was to be his.
It took a very true and special friend to tell him the truth, and it was with great sadness that he eventually came to the realisation that in taking on the responsibilities for the lives and the problems of those who he considered his friends, he had neglected to his own detriment the responsibility that was his, the responsibility for his own health and happiness and for his own wife and children. The responsibility to take for himself the time to ensure the quality of life that was his by right. He took a decision to accept the responsibility that was his, to do that which was beneficial and right for him and for those he loved and cared for.
He had some holiday leave to come and made a decision to take himself and his wife and children away on holiday, and for two weeks devoted all his energies to putting back that which had been lost. As if by magic, the headaches and the fatigue just dissapeared away as he involved himself once again with the important and valuable things of life. He relaxed, as you are now, and rediscovered the pleasure of a loving wife/partner and the joys of children. It did not take long for him to realise the truth and to recognise that he had become obsessed with taking on the responsibilies of others.
He resolved to take care of the most important elements of his life, his wife/partner, family and himself, those that loved him and who he loved and cared for were where his true responsibilities lay.
When he returned to work after his holiday, I wonder if you can imagine his feelings to discover that the office was in a state of chaos. His colleagues made it plain to him that they felt he had let them down, going away and leaving them with so much work to do.
It was with great deliberation that he addressed his colleagues that day. He explained to them that he would no longer be prepared to take on their workload and that they would have to accept for themselves the responsibility that was theirs for their own performance. He made it clear that he would not interfere in that responsibility, but that if his advice was required, he would be pleased to give them the benefit of his experience, but that decisions taken would have to be their own. He spoke of how they would all need to accept responsibility for their own lives, no more and no less than he was for his, that they were all entitled to, as was he, the reward for their own efforts and diligence and they were not entitled to a reward for the effort he had put in on their behalf.
It didn't take long for the office to fall in line with these new rules, and very soon John was back on top where he belonged. He no longer took on responsibilities other than what was his and his colleagues soon realised that with just a bit more effort, they could do well. They learned to accept the advice that John would give, but also that they needed to ask for that advice and then to accept responsibility for the decision that needed to be made.
Experience can be a bitter pill to swallow, the realisation that even friends will happily allow their responsibilities to be shouldered by another while they reap the benefit of work and effort that is not theirs, and perhaps you can wonder too that the time given was so greedily taken and then so casually acknowledged.
I hope that you will take the time to give yourself that which you are entitled to, time to care for you! not in an egotistical way but in a way that will mean that you make those decisions which are right for you and for those who you love and care for. To make a positive change, sometimes difficult decisions, even unpopular ones have to be realised then made.
From time to time, we all need to revisit our goals to make sure they are still aligned with good health and future happiness.
Thank you for reading. If you feel you would like some support to rebalance your life, a call to me is all that is needed.