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Senior Correspondent

My Boss and Me

I have been known to say some pretty disparaging things about my boss over the years. Things I am not especially proud of thinking, much less saying out loud. I have used and abused my boss more times that I can recall. The funny thing is that I actually like my boss as a person. I respect her on many levels, but the woman drives me up a tree at times. She can be very demanding; borders on being a workaholic. She's obsessed with excellence and yet continuously makes changes and improvements. She can be tremendously focused at times and then have a short little span of attention at others.  I could go on and on, but I will be kind. She is actually the best boss I ever had in many ways, and yet, she can be a little tyrant. I suspect short woman's syndrome.     

When my nieces and nephews were kids, I would often use my boss as the reason I could not take off work and play in the middle of the week. The kids decided that I must have a very mean boss, and I would always agree with them. We had a whole thing going on for years about how mean my boss must be.

Eventually the gig was up as, one by one, they discovered that I was self-employed and that made me my own boss. It was an Easter Bunny, Santa Claus moment for a couple of them.

Being successfully self-employed means that you have to be good at leading and managing yourself, exercising the same leadership skills you use for others. Only you are the manager and the employee, all rolled into one.  It can be tricky. I have actually fired myself a few times, and, lo and behold, I turn up bright and early the next morning ready to go to work again, as if nothing happened.

As I was mapping out 4th quarter and loading up my calendar, I became momentarily overwhelmed. I learned a long time ago that being overwhelmed is a far better than being underwhelmed, when one is in her own business.  

While working through the 4th quarter overwhelm, I made a stunning discovery. Like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. And that is the realization that all the work I lay out for myself isn't really done "by" me. The work is done "through" me. And, there is a huge difference.

When I tell myself that I have to do it all…there is so much to do…and I will never get it all done , etc. etc.  Well, you see where this leads. My energy is consumed by worry and fretting.  Dr. Benjamin Zander calls it "the downward spiral" conversation. It's the kind of self- talk that pulls a person down, sapping all his/her energy and focus.  

On the other hand, if I remind myself that the work on my list will happen through me, it puts my energy and attention in a whole other place and space. The ego relaxes a bit, making way for inspiration. I get out of my own way, so to speak. It becomes a privilege to work instead of a burden. And, it's way more fun.

Work happens through me when I allow myself to go with the flow. Problems are easily and effortlessly solved. More is accomplished with fewer resources. Nice and Easy. I become a better boss and a more productive and happier employee. I fire myself up, instead of firing myself. All things are possible when I lead and manage myself in this manner.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your Coaching Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept It:  How does work work for you? How might allowing your work to flow through you improve your work-life? And your personal life? Ponder these questions and use the answers that come up to make some changes in the way you operate.

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