The Best, Most Difficult Thing to Sustain a Life of Service

andrea in glassesThe Austin-Houston trip of the last two weeks has netted a lot of great, personal learnings. One of the funnest has been how much I enjoy NOT wearing contact lenses in public and from stage.

After more than ten years of being a contact-lens only person in public, this is a small revolution! I particularly love when something so personal evolves into the category of ‘less is more.’ Not only is it less trouble to wear glasses, it’s also less strain on my eyes, costs less, less vanity-concerning, AND it turns out to be fun.

By the way, no, I didn’t spend a lot of time sorting out whether this would be good for my personal brand. Perhaps I should have, because I think I do look quite different with, and without contacts. But I didn’t. And I do believe it’s going to be okay!

The best, most difficult thing I learned this trip is more subtle, so I’m turning to this writing to help flesh it out. In going through my notebooks to pluck out the plums and to dos, I see here I’ve written:

Me – ask for what I need:

Tuesday night privacy quiet time 9-1030pm
Wednesday 9-11pm
Thursday massage after Diamond Day, before evening session?
Someone else facil team meetings.
Friday/Saturday quiet time 930-1030pm.
Sunday massage **paddleb**.

My notes were beautifully well-intentioned and harder to put into practice than you might think. Hubby Mike who so many of you have come to know directly at our workshops and in photos, is the antithesis of a night person, an introvert, and, sleeps less well at hotels than I do.

mikeajlpaddleb (1)Mike comes with me on business trips like these as the most incredible extra pair of operational hands, pitching in his support, fun, and bolstering my connection to home and self. To ask him, at the end of a long day of extroversion, to vacate the hotel room we share and give me even an hour of quiet time…turned out to be quite the test for us.

In practice, I kept shortening the time I was asking for.

“Oh, just 30 minutes is enough.”
“Really, come back in 20 minutes, I’ll be okay.”

One night I didn’t insist, and he was already in bed when it came to light…

“It’s okay really you’re already in bed…” as he pulled on his shorts to go out into the night.

Ugh, my heart in those moments! And the tussle inside as the sparks of negative self-talk tried to catch hold. It was all very tender and revealing. But the measure of support a person gives you especially when it’s difficult for themselves, when they have ‘stuff’ happening on their end, has to be one of the most humbling things.

And what I know now is:

1. It’s much, much better to be super clear and insist up front. (Than to allow the whiny poor me self to creep up and surprise later. Much better.)

2. Asking for something hard to give, opens up a beautiful bonding opportunity in the relationship. (If my relationship feels the tiniest bit wistful, it may be that this is a place to look – have I become complacent in my asking? Not just my giving, or loving.)

3. A small slice of quiet time in a hotel room after a long day is miraculous for my nervous system. Even moving around quickly to ‘sort’ my environment and tidy any internal frayed-ness gave me an extra couple doses of ‘readiness’ to serve the next day. As a very resilient introvert, this played a major role in my ability to show up fully AND not have a crash – health wise, food wise, emotions or energy wise (fill in the blank) after 11 days.

For someone who checks off many of the self-sacrificing, people-pleasing boxes – female, Asian, first daughter, mmm. This one goes deep. I know my life has been given to me to ensure it’s of the best service possible. Turns out, I’m really starting to get how to make sure that happens.

I would very much like to remember how this best, most difficult thing feels: asking for what I need. Which has never felt more directly linked to success than in this moment.

To do better, become clearer, and ask for what you need. If you’re not yet clear, getting clearer is the first job.

I’m wondering – how might you have learned this lesson in different ways? And whether we can lean in and learn it some more together here?

One thought on “The Best, Most Difficult Thing to Sustain a Life of Service

  1. Hey there ol’ friend. So glad to see your post. I recently have had to make the same compromise re: contacts. The only thing that doesn’t change is change. If someone doesn’t like you in your new look, heck with them, how shallow and their loss. But I understand the concern, I am too. I say have fun finding lots of nice frames at a low cost place online and do ‘Elton John’. Remember years ago when it was reported he had 100’s of frames?

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