I was listening to a podcast today, while “watching” my son’s soccer practice. True confession here: I am not overly engaged in my children’s athletic performance. I hope they have fun. I peek up from time to time to see that THEY are engaged, because that’s all I really care about. So anyway, the point was the podcast. It was a goodie – Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons with Glennon Doyle Melton as the special guest. Yeah, that’s a party I’m attending.
I’m rolling along soaking up the fantastic conversation and Glennon Doyle Melton lays out the application of a fundamental life lesson that I’ve only come to understand in the last couple of years. She’s describing how she began blogging (Momastery – it’s fabulous) and her commitment to finishing a piece of work and letting it go. She just hit that publish button and that was it. She was done. It was not her job to babysit the art once it was created because it was none of her business if anybody liked it or not. Did you get that? It was none of her business if anybody liked it or not. Whoa. (Yes, bloggers, that means NOT checking your stats – WHAT?!)
Worrying about whether or not anybody liked it, or how many people liked it, or whether it was getting shared on Facebook, or whether people were leaving crappy comments could only serve to take her away from her true purpose, to write HER. The being, the writing of HER was her business. What people thought about it was NOT her business.
This is a fantastic example of one of my favorite Byron Katie ideas: your business, someone else’s business, and god’s business. All of our concerns and activities can be categorized this way and the clarity that this distinction creates can be mind-blowing if you are not typically very good at staying in your own business. Perhaps this is when I should reveal myself as a former squatter in other people’s business.
Let’s take a moment to just lay it all out.
Your Business: what you do, how you do it, whether those two align with your values, your integrity, your goals, your hopes, your small still voice, your boundaries, your safety
Other People’s Business (as it pertains to you): what others think of what you do, how others react to what you do, what they take your actions to mean, whether or not they like you or the things you’ve created, said, worked on, produced, raised, farmed, illustrated, written, washed, cooked (hello dinner table fussing)…. you get the drift
god’s Business (small g denoting that you may use any word for a larger than just one of us notion: universe, God, Allah, Jesus, spirit, Buddha, AllOne, whatever you’ve got going there): all the stuff that is not within your control. This is a very long list so let’s just suffice it to say that if it gets beyond the kind of thing that could be handled in a series of productive meetings, it may be in this category.
The great thing about staying in your own business? You stay focused. You are authentic. You produce things and actions that are genuinely YOU and therefore are unlike things and actions that anyone else could produce. You live to your fullest purpose when you are your most you. You worry less. You feel less hurt. You waste less time.
The problem with being in other people’s business? There is simply not enough time in the day to account for everyone’s opinion of what you want to do. Believe me, I’ve tried. There is not surer way to stall your own action. If you do manage to produce something, you’ll end up blowing it anyway, producing something you don’t particularly like, and someone will still find fault (maybe even the same awful fault you find). Besides that, to be in everyone else’s business, you have to be a mind reader. I will readily admit that my attempts at this have proven 50/50 at best. At best you will misinterpret and be hurt when who knows what they REALLY meant?
The problem with being in god’s business? You can’t control everything. No. Really. You can’t. If you aren’t ready to accept that, you don’t have time to keep reading this post. Go back to what you were doing before. If you’re completely exhausted and can’t understand why nothing is working, it just might be that you’re trying to control things (or worry excessively about things) that are well beyond your, or any single human’s, control.
I need reminding about my business every now and again. I need to remember the same thing I tell my daughter when she’s worried about what a classmate said about an art project: “Whose opinion of that piece is most important?” She gets it right every time. And then she smiles. Because SHE liked it. She made it. She made it as hers as it could be. And sometimes other people don’t like that. And that’s just fine. That’s their business.
Need some more help figuring out whose business you’re in and how to stay in your own? I can help with that. Get in touch with me to schedule a complimentary coaching conversation (firstname.lastname@example.org OR (240)367-9730).