I know you are thinking What a dummy…I don’t have that problem.
You may be right. But before you pass judgment, take a moment to read a summary of my experience with this problem.
Back in 2004, thanks to changes in medical coverage regulations and company growth, I ended up in a role where:
- My work directly affected the financial metrics of the company.
- I had to become an expert in something everyone was doing for the first time.
- I had to explain actuarial concepts to people of different backgrounds. And,
- I was learning and being challenged daily.
It was great. I felt important.
Over time, I got better at many things. With expertise come promotions and more responsibilities. I started climbing the ladder of success.
I kept climbing the ladder until I suffered from “The paradox of success”
- I became successful.
- My success attracted more projects.
- I liked the attention and said yes to everything.
- I was responsible for so many things that I burned out and failed.
My problem came from believing and wanting to do it all and help everyone and anyone.
I let the need to feel important transform me into a people pleaser.
Are you a people pleaser?
I hid the people pleasing mentality with the following thoughts:
- I like helping others.
- I feel an obligation to help them get what they need.
- I need to tend to what my market leaders ask for.
- I need to fix it because I’m the expert and I can do it faster.
- Or the classic…But they need me…
All these phrases are fine in moderation but my problem was that I started saying them 24/7.
And as soon as I believed them, I started looking for evidence that people valued my work. And then, I got angry whenever I didn’t see enough evidence.
I started saying things like:
- They don’t pay me enough.
- No one listens to me.
- I’m the only one that cares.
- Must be nice to leave at 5 every day.
- Why do I have to fix everything?
I said all these things because I started believing that my sole purpose was to make sure everyone got what they needed, except myself.
I forgot the wisdom of the classic phrase “you cannot give what you do not have.” Sooner or later, the tank goes empty.
What’s the lesson?