I used to really dislike this statement. I didn’t believe it was true. How could I not take things personally? I believed that if you were dedicated to your job, then everything that happened at work was personal. I believed that my success or failure was always directly connected to how well I did my work. I felt that my efforts, my faults, my omissions were the sole cause when things didn’t work out perfectly. It was personal.
This mindset wasn’t healthy. My perspective was skewed by the fact that I was suffering from burnout. I’m finally able to say those words out loud – I was burnt out. When I left my job two years ago, I was exhausted in all ways – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’d taken on every problem and issue as my personal mission, and if something went wrong, or if someone was unhappy, I called it my fault. In some ways this is such an egocentric viewpoint – how could I be in charge of everything? But it didn’t feel like ego. It felt like I was constantly pushing a boulder uphill, and never reaching the top.
Since then, I’ve completed a coaching program. One of the unexpected side-effects of doing a coaching program is that you get coached all the time. My classmates and I constantly needed to practice, so I was coached regularly. It solidified for me the huge benefits that a person can reap from individual coaching.
Along with the coaching, I spent time reflecting, talking to other entrepreneurs and professionals, and developing a new way of looking at myself and the place in my life that work needs to occupy. The result was a huge shift in my mind about what is truly personal.
Nowadays, my work is very personal. I coach individuals, I teach yoga and I lead weekend retreats. All of those things involve me telling the world who I am as a person and a professional. If someone decides not to work with me, I could easily take it personally.
But I don’t. I realize that not everyone is going to like my approach, and quite frankly, I’m ok with that. I want to work with people who connect with me. I can’t be all things to all people, and why would I even try? It would be crazy to think that everyone would like me all the time, or that everyone would want to participate in the activities I organize.
I realize now that people respond for many, many different reasons. They have their own issues and problems, they have their own idea of what they want, they have barriers and hang-ups about what they’ll allow for themselves. None of that has anything to do with me. All I can do is be authentic, and continue to offer what I offer, knowing that the right people will come along to work with me.
Experiencing burnout was a gift, because it made me wake up and change my perspective. I never want to go back to that deflated, small feeling. The bigger gift has been the opportunity to completely change how I see the world and my place in it.
That old adage is true: the only person I can truly control is myself.