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You Can’t Be Someone’s Everything

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During my conference this week, I had lunch with a beautiful new friend named Katie (pictured above). We were on the topic of kids and how I love being an aunt and playing that role. I feel extremely fortunate to have nieces and nephews in my life. Katie then dropped this knowledge: 
“Once I had a child, I have been very intentional about making sure that my child doesn’t see me as their only person that can guide, comfort, and care for them. My job as a mom is not to be her everything, but that it’s my job to make sure she has a community of people in her life that can give her everything she needs.” 
Chills, right? 
This sparked two very important concepts that I immediately wanted to explore more on.

#1: In relationships, we cannot be everything for someone.

  • In romantic relationships, you cannot fulfill every role that your partner needs. 
  • As a parent, you do not have to be the sole nurturer for your child to help them grow and develop, 
  • As a leader, you do not have to be the only person responsible for your employees’ development. 
  • As HR, you are not the sole department responsible for positive company culture. 

This is not to say you should ditch all responsibilities and throw caution to the wind, but feeling the immense pressure to completely fill this role might be causing you to not show up as your best self. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. And it’s not fair to you, or the other people in the relationship. I know, it’s easy to stay as the ‘ultimate fulfiller’ because of guilt, pride, or it’s simply just “what you do!” But the end result is not always pretty, my friends.

#2: Do you have relationships that you expect the other person to be all things to you? 

It’s a hard truth to face, but I really encourage you to get curious with  this question. 
In the early years of dating my husband, I fully acknowledged that he was an introvert and that going out wasn’t always fun for him. But I would get so frustrated when Friday rolled around and he preferred to stay in rather than go out. By working through this (with his help), I realized I was expecting him to fulfill a role that I had other people in my life to fulfill. While he is my everything, he didn’t  need to provide everything, because I had other people in my circle to go and socialize with. And it is the gifts he brings that I would never change.  
In the career world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting your boss to be the ultimate, all-knowing, all-giving pillar. But why should one leader hold your entire future in their hands? I once got passed over for a job when I first deciphered I wanted to go into training. I felt like my boss wasn’t giving me the opportunity to grow this muscle. I spent a lot of time complaining and growing frustrated. Finally, my coworker Rita said, “You’re giving your boss a lot of power over your future.” Ultimately, she was saying I was expecting everything from my boss. I was putting my future, my happiness, my development in someone else’s hands, but I wasn’t taking responsibility myself to grow in this area. So, I found a mentor, she introduced me to the Drake Master’s program, and the rest is history! 
Overall I think these two concepts illustrate the ever-growing importance of community. Find your tribe. Find your people. That community is going to help you be at your best. And conversely, you are going to be part of someone else’s tribe that help them show up as their best self. It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

Get Curious

  • When do I put pressure on myself that I need to be all things for someone in my life? How can I challenge this rule so I can be my best for them right now? 
  • Who are people in my life that I expect to be all things for me? Who else in my community can fulfill roles that I expect this other person to play? 
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