Prior to beginning, I usually read through the exercise to make sure I understand the purpose and that I have everything I need. That knowledge then carries over into my pre-reading meditation where I give thanks, do a bit of praying, let go of things troubling me from earlier in the day, and just get centered. My prayer for this exercise was to learn how to find the balance between producing the highest quality work and also being in the moment and enjoying the process.
To add some extra information here, I took on a client a short time ago and recently declined the offer to come on-board full time as they had originally hired me only for a relaunch project rather than a more permanent management position. They exhausted their original retainer and a few days ago I sent them a follow up invoice billing the hours accumulated over and above the original amount. This wasn’t a surprise as they had asked specifically about paying for the time I’ve worked and whatever they owe. Typically, I receive payment within hours electronically. I know in my heart of hearts that not only was my rate and billing to them fair-to-generous (they are family friends), but I did excellent work even if they complained I was too detail oriented and working to far ahead.
This characterization of my work has followed a slow progression of them moving away from being fully on-board with a well mapped plan for their business’s relaunch to a very substandard effort on their part. The word that comes into my head over and over again is “lazy”. If I was a customer and walked in to do business with them, I’d turn right around and walk out. They are not ready and it is clear to anyone who meets with them that they are missing important aspects of a functioning business — these are things that were in my original plan that they have chosen to put to the side. I still do not understand the logic of opening a business without a proper system in place to process payment and my attempts to shove them along with their chosen bank to get it set up was characterized as “too hands on”.
Like I know that their comments about my consultation and suggestions are rooted in their dwindling desire to put in the work after they realized that this would take (surprise!) actual work to do. But there’s also this part of me that wonders if maybe I was, in fact, too detail oriented, that I was trying to be controlling and force people to do (the right) things. In other words, did I alienate my client by over doing it? This is the only real struggle I have with this job. It’s hard for me at times to accept that clients will ignore good advice, piss away opportunities, and light piles of money on fire. Having things go smoothly and successfully is always the goal personally and professionally. Honestly, it is the most triggering thing when clients refuse to go along with a solid plan. The self-sabotage is infuriating. That is a rather my-way-or-the-highway controlling type of perspective, I guess. And very perfectionist-centric.
- What is an activity at which I could excel, but where I tend to go overboard? Control — “There is a time and a place for control, but if we put it in charge of our lives we end up totally rigid. His world is ordered and perfect, but it is not alive. If mistakes happen, it’s okay. There is much more to life than being ‘on top of things’.” [When I saw the word “control” it hit me in the feels. To put it crudely: shit happens. Life happens. While I can be super focused, thorough, and dedicated to a job, goal, project, whatever to the highest level, I’m going to miss the mark or my best won’t be good enough sometimes. To be honest, the latter of those two is probably the worst in my eyes. A lot of my energy goes into trying to be perfect through control. Controlling my look, how I speak, my image and reputation, the narrative, what others see when they have said or done something that hurts me, what emotions I show or don’t show others. This takes so much energy. The irony of it is that I had gotten so good at it that a lot of people in my personal life believe that version of me to be the real girl. It has fucked me over so many times in relationships.]
- Show me a card that will help me recognize when I am about to go overboard. Success — “Because of your willingness to accept the recent challenges of life, you are now (or soon will be) enjoying a wonderful ride on the tiger of success. Welcome it, enjoy it, and share your joy with others. If you … squeeze every drop … of the happiness you are experiencing now, you will be able to take the future as it comes without regrets.” [My trigger to go overboard is when I realize I’ve done something well. Here’s how this plays out. I’m doing something, step back, and realize the final product is awesome. I’ve completed the task and I’ve done it well. I can feel when I’ve got a winner. This is an ability I get from my grandmother: she knew when something would be a money-maker. The moment I conclude that this is it, I immediately start critiquing everything. I’m tearing it all down (including myself) even faster than I’ve constructed it. I rob myself of the moment to just sit and appreciate the fact that I actually pulled it off. Why? Because there’s no possible way they’re going to look at this and say I’ve done this well and that I know what I’m doing. It’s like that impostor syndrome. I (or my work) don’t warrant this. I don’t qualify to enjoy this because I’m only kidding myself that this turned out well.]
- How can I use this card as a warning? When I feel that excitement, that rush of “I finished and it’s great!”, it’s great on one hand, but is also a very out of control feeling. I was hands on doing, making, whatever it was and it was all under my control. But now that it’s done, it must be handed over to someone else beyond my sphere of control. This is where the line needs to be drawn and a massive U-Turn sign cemented in the center of the road. Ride the tiger. If I’m pleased with whatever it is, I need to sit down and just have that Bueller moment of taking it all in. No critiquing or revisiting. Take my hands off the wheel and enjoy the ride. Just release that work into the wild.
- The third card was one that I asked for on my own. What else do I need to know? The Outsider, reversed. — “The small child in this card is standing on one side of a gate, looking through it. He is so small, and so convinced that he cannot get through, he cannot see that the chain holding the gate is not locked. All he has to do is open it. You have an opportunity now to stop the tape, to quit tormenting yourself with ideas that you are somehow not ‘enough’ to be accepted and included.” [Without words.]
I’m really going to work on untangling my self-image and stopping my self-esteem from being so results-based.