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Senior Correspondent

I have been heard 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 than 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 and 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 attention span 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 fourth quarter and loading up my calendar, I became momentarily overwhelmed. I learned a long time ago that being overwhelmed is far better than being underwhelmed when one is in her own business. While working through the fourth-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. 

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