On dropping all the balls, letting people down and being disappointed

a man juggling five clubs, shot from aboveI hate jugglers. That ability to throw and catch three, four, five, six balls simultaneously and make pretty patterns in the air whilst doing so. Maybe I’m jealous. I’m often commended for my ability to keep stuff in the air, but most of the time, if truth be told, it’s a tad more luck than judgement. And the thing with luck? Sometimes it runs out.

This week I feel a heel. Should be in one place, am actually going to be in another.

Unless I can invent a time machine or the ability to clone myself, can drink that potion in Harry Potter that means you can cheat time and be in two places at once or get a Delorean that takes me back to the future I’m going to disappoint someone.

Actually it’s not even just that. I’m going to disappoint myself.

I want to be the best I can – have the most impact I can through the work I do, yes, but more than that. I also want be a good enough mum, a good enough wife, a good enough sister, good enough daughter, friend, colleague….

Someone passed me a link a while back  – a TED talk by an annoying guy called Larry Smith. For me, an annoying delivery and an even more annoying subject. His talk is about why you will fail to have a great career. Only it’s not about you, it’s about why I will fail to have one.

He is clear that unless I can get past wanting to please everyone, to be everything to everyone, I will never prioritise my own work. I will never make the most of what I could achieve. I will constantly put other people’s needs over my own and in the end I will just show those around me what it is to settle, not what it is to be incredible. Harsh words. Annoying words. True words.

But the cost is high. In prioritizing yourself you are selfish – self-centred, if you prefer. And what he doesn’t go on to warn you about is that when you do take your place in the centre, just how badly it hurts.

I understand what he means but I still want to do it all, see it as part of being good and fair to all.  Yet I physically just can’t be everything I want to be to everyone all the time. So how do I choose and more importantly how do I deal with how I feel when I have chosen? Tough questions needing much thought.

So what am I learning? That hard decisions lead to uncomfortable feelings. That I really hate letting people down. That many people are happy to chip in if they can – you just have to ask for help. That people do forgive you when you let them down if they love you. That sometimes stepping back can give other people a chance to step up. And that I need to be better at communication – not just wait for the ‘right time’ but to own up sooner when things become time tight.

Oh and that sometimes the simplest things might be more complex than you imagined. As I left this morning the only thing not ticked off my list was reminding my son to clean his teeth. So did so just as I left the house and didn’t give it another thought until I got a text half an hour later. He’d managed to wedge his brush onto the top of the toothpaste cylinder…. Well, I never saw that one coming but he did manage to sort it out and make his lift for school!

So thanks for all those helping me out this week. Sorry to the person I have left down. And finally, I’m going to make myself learn to juggle. Just three balls. There’s got to be a way to keep three balls in the air without dropping them.

Photo thanks to Gabriel Rojas Hruska and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.


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