Today Ashley is going to take it in a little bit of a different direction and dive into something personal that might even seem unrelated to love at first. Don’t worry, it will sneak up on you!
There has been something weighing on my mind that I am trying to figure out how to navigate.
I’m having a hard time balancing the joy that comes from work-life balance and the need to be relevant. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and primarily worked for myself. Taking risks fuels me and I don’t fear failure. By happenstance, or possibly fate if you believe in that sort of thing, I took a corporate detour with eHarmony a few years back.
I have equally enjoyed these two contradicting scenarios, working for myself and working only when I feel like it and being part of something larger and working 60 hours a week.
I can honestly say that I had no idea if I could really work for anyone else, because I was so used to working for myself. I’m passionate and that sometimes makes me stubborn (ok maybe the majority of the time not just some of the time).
Life Lessons From a Wise Man
There are lessons that I learned from a corporate environment that I never could have learned otherwise. In my time at eHarmony, I learned so much about business, relationships, and myself. I had to face my weaknesses and turn them into works in progress. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always worth it.
I am grateful to say that many of these lessons came from my mentor, Grant Langston.
He took a chance on me and I will never forget it. I came on the scene ready to dive in and hustle. I remember our first meeting like it was yesterday. I walked into his office with my list prepared of topics to cover. I sat down and launched in, speaking extremely fast so as to not waste his precious time. I figured that was what a corporate exec would want….
The first thing he did was tell me to slow down and relax. I kicked back in my chair and he started to ask me thought provoking questions. He didn’t want answers, he wanted ideas and solutions. We dialogued for nearly an hour and I learned right then that Grant was all about relationships.
I remember leaving the meeting boggled. I went in there ready to simply give him a quick snapshot of what I had been up to. I left motivated, inspired, and with a “why”.
Up until that moment, I think I actually thought that maybe business and relationships didn’t really mix. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous that I wasn’t yet aware of the value of professional relationships and how they breed innovation and productivity. After several meetings, I concluded that Grant put my needs first and because of that, I wanted to excel in achieving his objectives for me and my team.
So, lesson number one was to focus on making a deep connection in any and every interaction. I had to learn to make part of my day about connection and inspiration instead of my task list. During the time that I set aside for engaging with my team and colleagues, I actually had to be present (not thinking about the million other things I needed to do like I usually was). That is where the second lesson came in….
Next, Grant taught me to always be the calmest person in the room. This person always wins. What I discovered was that I needed to check myself before each interaction to make sure that my mind was clear and I could really listen without having my own agenda. I figured out the best way for me to do this was to prepare my thoughts prior so I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting what I felt was so important. I have to admit this is still a work in progress. I can get task focused, which is not conducive to being present. I hope to fully grasp it soon. J
Finally, he taught me that if you know that you have a good idea, don’t give up on it. Rethink it until you find a way to make it work or create a better version of the initial concept. This was an incredibly powerful lesson for me. Of course, you have to be clear that there is a market for your product or you will be swimming upstream! I was able to see firsthand the value in continuously coming to the table with new ideas. Not all of them were great, but some of them were. I learned not to give up and keep coming up with ideas no matter the outcome.
Shiny Objects & The Need to Have it All
These lessons now permeate my every day and drive my success personally and professionally. Each day I have one primary purpose, to give value to someone without any expectations. I do that by slowing down, being present, really listening, and then using my creative mind to help them generate new ideas and solutions.
Even with this mission, it is still easy for me to get caught up in shiny objects. I find myself still feeling the need to be relevant. What I mean by needing to be relevant is that I have a deep seated yearning as a professional, ambitious woman to be constantly involved in something big. That could be a new product, company, something massive that will touch the lives of many, or something cool I don’t even know about yet! If you can name what movie that last part is from, high five!
A few months ago, we made a vow as a family to live with less, to travel more, and to create a lifetime of shared experiences. This has drastically shifted my perspective. We started out rural for a month, living where life is simple. You spend more time outdoors, appreciate the little things in life, and there is no such thing as keeping up with the Jones’. It was a strange and invigorating time out from my usual routine which honestly had previously consisted of doing many things that don’t actually give my life value.
Here’s the weird thing, as I began to think about heading back to Los Angeles, I instantly started thinking about who I needed to connect with and what I could get involved in.
My question to myself was “WHY?!” I had just spent the last 30 days working about 5 hours a day, spending glorious amounts of time outdoors in beautiful weather, and enjoying every single moment with my family. Why the hell do I need to do more when life is pretty great?
I’ve started to draw some conclusions about this need to “do more”. I first asked myself “Am I just not doing ENOUGH? Should I be doing more and helping more people?”
I realized that this feeling has nothing to do with helping people. I am fortunate that I get to do that every day. I don’t feel as though I need to help a certain number of people in a given day because I believe it’s really about the value you give someone. You could “help” thousands of people a day, but if that change is not sustainable, what good has it been? My goal each day is to make a deep and powerful connection with at least one person. Ideally, the outcome of this connection is that it will propel the person to take action in their life that they have never been able to take to achieve whatever it is that they really want….happiness, love, success. I don’t have any rules or regulations regarding who this person is. It could be a friend, family member, colleague, client or a random! So, it’s not about feeling limited in my capacity to help or being dissatisfied with the work that I do.
Could it be about a need for more money? No. Fortunately, finances are not an issue for me and I don’t have a burning desire to a billionaire. I am not saying I am opposed to it, but it is not my top priority. J With a few basic skills, anyone can make money in a lot of different ways.
The more I thought about this need for relevance, the more I realized that this is something professional women like me experience often.
When you are driven and ambitious, it’s always about the next goal you need to achieve. It’s about being able to do it ALL!
Being a successful, sought after expert in your industry
Making room and space for people in your life (potential partners, friends, family, etc.)
Being a loving, kind, and passionate partner
Being a genuine, empathic, patient, and present parent.
For me, there are about a million other daily goals too…to make my family innovative, healthy, whole foods, to keep our lives and our house organized and clean, to be a great daughter, sister, family member, friend….I could go on and on.
I think most women feel this way! I would say that’s a lot of pressure!
(This is not to say that men don’t feel this way, I can just only speak to my experience as a woman.)
Could it just be a habit? FOMO. As an ambitious professional, you work really hard to build a notable career for yourself. There is a fear that it could be taken away in a moment and you don’t want to miss out. You also want to be the best partner, lover, and all the other things I already mentioned. It’s easy to get caught up in needing to be more when you see how many other things everyone else is doing (especially through social media).
Since I am a millennial, I think it’s fair to tease my generation a bit. As a millennial, we see people who are billionaires by 30. The get rich quick mindset is all we have. It’s all about the financial freedom and creating one significant financial downpour. But, what’s next? Most ambitious people don’t retire at 30 and the live the rest of their lives happily. They get involved in another project at some point and then again they work around the clock until they profit massively from it.
Years of life are lost and priceless moments with the ones we care about never come to be.
How to Be Relevant
At the end of the day, I concluded that the solution is to be clear on what is really important and where your values lie.
I think we absolutely can do and have it all as long as we are clear on how much of much of our time we are willing to dedicate to each one of our priorities right now.
What are your top three priorities?
How much time can you dedicate to each priority each day?
I decided that giving value to all of the people in my life (family, friends, colleagues, clients, etc.) is a non-negotiable for me.
Think about the timing of each of your goals. Is it really pressing? Can you dedicate your time to one specific focus and then move on to the next so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed?
I am willing to wait until the right time comes for each of those goals instead of trying to cram them all into right now and missing out on so many of the joys of life. Every moment matters.
How Does this Apply to Dating and Love?
So how does this apply to dating and relationships? All relationships are the same regardless of the context. Professional, Intimate, and Familial relationships require your attention, presence, and creative mind. People stay single because they aren’t willing to make finding love a priority. Many more get divorced today because they simply don’t prioritize their relationship. They don’t bring new ideas to the table, they don’t pay attention to one another, they forget to listen and just think about their own needs. It is too easy to get caught up in things that aren’t really important and tied to values that are not our own.
Is love really a priority for you? If it is, what are you doing every day to reflect that?
Say yes to love,