I have written a series here on the blog, "Lessons from Kathryn". She's the person who has served as my manager at NextJob for most of my employment there, and that recently changed within the last few weeks. She is still at the company however she has been promoted to a new position. While she is no longer my day to day manager, we still talk on a constant basis. Her value in my life is not limited to positional authority and I am still in close relationship and learning from her whether she is overseeing me or not. I think we've actually talked more since she's not my manager than we did before! Incidentally, I am also in very good relationship with my new manager, Tina, who was responsible for bringing me to the company in the first place and is a great manager and leader to learn from as well.
There's something Kathryn taught me a long time ago that I'm just starting to realize the full value in now. We haven't even talked about this in months but our prior conversation is now bubbling to the surface and I'm applying it to my life.
Kathryn told me that should is the weakest motivational word ever and needs to be avoided whenever possible. For instance, think about this...if you say, "I should do the dishes..." how powerful is that? Not very. Many times when I say that I don't end up doing them! Now think about this -- if you say, "I will do the dishes" or "I am doing the dishes"...how powerful is that? Incredibly. You'll more than likely get them done. Self talk is very powerful and just a slight change in wording makes all the difference.
There are also shoulds that can be very judgmental. Due to my core values and belief system based upon the Bible, I believe a few shoulds are approriate but incredibly limited. The shoulds in my life are limited to what Jesus actually told me to do. This is where Kathryn and I part ways in thinking on this, I'm sure, as we are different in some of our faith beliefs. I believe commands in the scripture are the appropriate "shoulds". Things Jesus commanded me to do (like love or pursuing holiness or purity) are not maybe's, or up for discussion. However, anything else varies from person to person and needs to be between them and God. I've had to make some changes in this regard in the way I judge others and I have to let others judgment of me roll off. What do I mean by this? Well, here are some examples:
"You should keep a clean house. Cleanliness is next to godliness." (You don't find that in the scriptures, it's just old wives tale wisdom, but anyway...) It is a good thing to keep a clean house? Sure. But Everyone can't to the same level of ability and people have different struggles and needs. This is an example of inappropriate and unrealistic "should". Right now certain things in my house are an absolute mess but my physical and emotional needs are more important than taking care of those issues.
"You should answer all of your personal e-mails within 24 hours." This is a lofty goal but some days it has almost emotionally and physically killed me. I get about 300 emails a day between all of my jobs. I try my best but sometimes I just don't them all turned around in 24 hours. It's a nice goal but I don't put answering my e-mail up there with not committing adultery.
"You should go to people's special events when invited, to show your support." This is also a nice goal but when you pastor a church of several hundred people you also get invited to an amazing array of birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, wedding showers, etc. If I did all of these I would never get a free moment to breathe. Jesus did tell me to love my neighbor but he didn't say, "this mean you go to 100 birthday parties a year."
"Shoulds" when placed in inappropriate places and sentences bring undue stress, and even judgment. I believe in my personal case, I've even experienced physical sickness because I focused on "should's". It would be helpful to decrease the shoulds from our vocabularies. While Kathryn has taken it entirely out of hers, I still can't manage to go that far as a believer but other than the shoulds that Jesus placed in my life I'm working on living a relatively should-free life.
Thanks Kathryn, for another great lesson. I'll always be learning from you.