Would You Flunk The Test?
I was asked to give a talk in a Disney hotel to a group of women who were all married to members of the Young Presidents Organization.
Don’t ask me why they were all women and there were apparently no guys married to female members of YPO, because sadly it was a question that only occurred to me later that night.
I started off by handing out small white pieces of paper and I asked them all to write on the name of the single most important person in the world to them.
To begin with there was a lot of murmuring as some women insisted they couldn’t choose when they had multiple kids and a husband.
I tactfully told them to shut the fuck up and do as they were told because it was an important exercise.
A minute or two later I gathered up the thirty or so pieces of paper and quickly sifted through them.
I was pretty confident I’d see what I didn’t want to see.
A bunch of meaningless (to me) names.
There was one word missing off every single scrap of paper.
They All Flunked The Test
Every single person in the room had flunked the test.
When I was growing up my mum was always there for me. She was also always there for my sisters and nephews and nieces too, as well as my dad.
The one person who she was never there for, was herself.
There was always something that needed doing or somebody who wanted attending too.
I see this with clients more than I care to mention.
Usually, but by no means always, they are female and they see their role (albeit sometimes unconsciously) in life as being to serve others – usually their nuclear family.
This is a tricky subject to write about because Society has taught (most of) us to eschew selfishness, and rightly so.
If everybody were only looking after #1 then life would be chaotic and unpleasant.
Think 350 million clones of Donald Trump running around the country and you can get an idea.
But let me say this as clearly as I can.
Putting yourself first on occasions is not selfish.
It’s essential for happiness, mental health and to put you in a position to help others more effectively.
It doesn’t mean ignoring others needs, it means recognizing that you have needs too.
You need to take time out on occasions. To have some ‘me’ time where you can regroup and recharge your batteries.
By ignoring this need you run the risk of reducing your happiness levels and quite possibly damaging your self esteem.
Basing your worth and happiness on how happy you can make others is not sustainable.
It means that both things are not within your own control. That should be a frightening thought.
You are without doubt the most important person in the world to you.
Without you, your world ceases to exist, so how could it be any different?
Take time out when needed to do some of the things that rejuvenate you.
It’s ok to say ‘no’ occasionally, even to your kids.
In fact it’s imperative with your kids, not just for you, but to help teach them self reliance as well.
So I will ask you, ‘Who is the most important person in the world to you?’
Take your time to answer, just don’t flunk the test.