Do you ever get asked this question? You women who travel or run boards or manage throngs of kids or have demanding careers?
Well, people ask me, How Do You Do It All? Or say, shaking their heads, I don’t know how you do it all…
Can I debunk the myth for the throngs of us who get that statement or the throngs of us that make those statements?
We don’t. I don’t.
Let’s take an example from this week. I am on the board of a relatively large, well-known organization. Our President Elect stepped down and the Board voted for me to replace her as President Elect. That means I am jumping into projects only midway done to serve as President Elect for four months and also use that little amount of time to get an agenda together for my year as President in 2014. I’m a planner. Sudden change doesn’t set well with me.
The transition wasn’t going well. On one day, I had two really challenging encounters with the old guard part of the transition as I stepped in. Simultaneously, work exploded. In addition to my intense work load for the week, I had some major short fuse projects crop up. Plus I had conference calls scheduled most of the day. And I still hadn’t grocery shopped for the week so we were cobbling together solutions at home.
Then my nanny fell ill. Really ill. And the kids were ill. All were sick FOUR days before their first day at a brand new school. The doctor wanted to see us immediately. But not my doctor because she had the day off so the replacement doctor. So at 4 pm, in the midst of needing to accomplish a dozen things before leaving work, I had to RUN out the door to meet my nanny at the doctor’s office at 4:30 so that she could leave and go have the chills in the comfort of her own home.
I got in the car after all this madness and nonsense and conflict and rushing and pressure and pulled out of the parking garage only to see I had no gas. Not a little gas. No gas. Maybe enough to get down the highway to an exit but certainly not enough to get to the doctor’s office. The digital words blinked LOW and wouldn’t even show me the number of miles left any longer. I had been so busy rushing that week from meeting to meeting and to relieve the nanny and pick up milk and roasted chicken at the grocery and grab my dry cleaned blazer I needed that I literally didn’t even have five minutes to spare to get gas. So here, in a moment when I really didn’t have time to stop, I had no choice but to stop.
What else are you going to do?
In that moment with tardy deadlines and conflict and illness and an empty tank of gas, no one would have asked me that question. Because I wasn’t doing it all. I actually wasn’t doing it any.
That night, with the kids finally down and me sitting at the computer playing catch up, I walked across the kitchen and spied this on the monthly calendar:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
Isaiah 26: 3, 4 (King James Version)
I looked up another translation, the modern day Message, and this is what it said:
People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
I don’t have all the answers. Obviously. But I do know this – DEPEND ON GOD. And keep depending on God. There is so much around us that unsteadies our feet. There is so much rushing and frenzy and pressure we have no control over. (There is some stuff we HAVE control over, and that’s where learning to say NO would come in handy!) I did not center myself that morning by trusting in God and keeping my mind focused on higher and truer and better things. I just launched into the trenches and that’s where I stayed. I would still have had the work deadlines. My kids and nanny would have still been sick. I would have still had the conflict and tough transition, though I might have handled it better than I did. But I would have been centered. Less overwhelmed. More focused on prioritizing and staying centered.
So the next time you are tempted to say, how do you do it all, to a multi-tasking woman, maybe instead say, is there anything you need? And I’ll do the same.