I'm working on this project at work that celebrates and recognizes women business owners. These women are entrepreneurs. They serve on boards of nonprofits, raise families, run businesses and win all kinds of awards. They show up at networking events with their nails manicured, clothes perfectly tailored. You never see their gray roots, and you never see them fidget in their chairs because they can't stay awake during a meeting. Nuh-uh.
One year ago, I was stretched so thin that I suffered from chronic tension headaches that lasted well over a month without relief. At one point, it got so bad that vertigo kicked in, and when I walked, I had to stare at the ground and follow an imaginary line so I didn't bump into walls or coworkers.
I took inventory of my commitments and relieved myself of a few and told myself I'd practice saying "no" when people asked me to do something. So far so good. I have full range of motion in my neck and I haven't had a headache in 10 months.
How do these women do it?
I imagine these women as superheroes whose children never leave socks in the cracks in the sofa ... who stay up late to watch Letterman and wake at 4 a.m. feeling fully rested as they hit their treadmills ... who never snap at their coworkers, family or friends ... who show up 10 minutes early for every appointment.
I'm deluding myself, I know. No one is perfect.
But it's made me take a look at how I show up for other people. I'm tired of apologizing for being late and forgetting commitments. I get times screwed up all the time because I still think I can remember on my own.
I'm getting on my own nerves.
I'm a low-level employee whose income hovers around the middle five figures, a single parent, Big Sister and fledgling triathlete. I'm someone's girlfriend, someone's daughter, someone's sister, niece and cousin. I'm friend to more than 300 (according to Facebook). I should be able to handle all of this.
Yet, I forget commitments, forget birthdays, show up late and let you down.
Just this weekend, I had a conversation with a good friend about my problem with commitments. We devised a way for me to break through the problem.
My first day "on the job," I let down my friend Mark. I was supposed to deliver some brochures to him yesterday afternoon. I didn't forget the appointment, but I forgot the brochures and let him down.
So, here it is, in black and white, my commitment: If I tell you I will do something and I forget or show up late, you have my permission to let me know that I disappointed you. I need to hear it.