My internet went down, again. This time, it was in the middle of my mastermind call. It felt like a sign, on top of an already crappy morning, to call it a day despite the fact that was only 10:00 AM.
You know, days like that.
Both kids up with nightmares and in our room by 3:00 AM. (In case you’re wondering, queen beds do not fit four people well). We had two sleeping kids and two very awake adults who held emotions that were both loving and bitter all wrapped up in a not-so-pretty bow.
I tried to put their comfort above my own and spent a few hours going in and out of sleep imagining their early childhood. They are two years apart, and when they were young we’d pick them up and carry them around; they loved it. Their favorite was when we would “hold both.”
We’d pick one child up and then they’d start saying, “hold both!” and we’d lift the other child onto the opposite hip. It got harder and harder the older and bigger they got until one day it was impossible.
Once straightforward how to hold both, we had to find a new way. Now, holding both is cuddling on the couch during a bedtime show or in the early morning hours before school – not up in the air, on my hips, where I alone was carrying all of the burden. I needed support, a foundation to continue holding both.
The Art of Holding Both
You too are learning how you can fully show up holding both this AND that in your life and leadership.
Passion for your career AND love for your family.
Desire to be fit AND need to veg out once in a while.
Hard charging professional AND compassionate leader.
Committed friend AND recharged through time spent alone.
Engaged employee AND running a side hustle.
Social media addict AND devoted to in-person relationships.
Fiercely independent AND in a long-term relationship.
And, and, and…
You are complex because you carry these dichotomies with you everywhere you go. They are both equally a part of you and drive all that you do.
You may wonder, if you’re honoring one, are you really holding both?
Because holding both is about embracing the choice you make at this moment, without pushing the other part of you out of your being.
Here’s an example:
You need to stay late at the office to crank out a deliverable, and you’ll miss the kid’s bedtime.
We both know that it’s impossible to be two places at once. So, what do you do? You call and give your partner a heads up, and you call the kiddos to say sweet dreams.
You use the tools at your disposal (phone) and your foundation (your partner) to meet your commitment to work without forgetting about that other part of you. In fact, when holding both, you actively create an opportunity to be home early on another day and spend meaningful time together.
If you’re doing it daily, you need to take a look at where your life may be overfilled with tasks and to-dos (or a coach I know can help you). Of course, that doesn’t lessen your need or desire to learn the art of holding both.
It’s not easy, and it may, like my two kiddos in our bed, keep you awake at night. How can learn to honor both parts of you – especially when you feel like you’re standing in the middle of a tug of war?
Here are three things you can do right now to begin holding both instead of living an either-or life:
1) Know your boundaries and honor them.
Boundaries are your line in the sand. If you’re consistently getting pushed over that line by other people in your life, it’s time to stand strong.
TIP: Be intentional about what you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying no to as well. Also, be aware of who is getting the yes and the no.
2) Invest in your foundation.
Just like I could not longer pick up my kids on my own, you too need a foundation or framework to enable you to hold both – you don’t need to do it on your own.
TIP: Ask for help when you need it and trust the other person and their capabilities to get things done.
3) Go all-in.
This may seem counterintuitive. If you’re all in on one side, aren’t you ignoring the other? The truth is, when you’re giving less than your all to everything, it all suffers.
TIP: Give it your all where you are. With friends? Be fully present. Taking a hike? Be all there – mind, body, and spirit. Split focus means missing out – who wants that?
Holding both is truly about living a robust life of your design and allowing yourself to create moments that make it meaningful. Will there be sacrifices? Heck, yeah. Will there be times you do a crappy job? Definitely. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Life does not have to be either-or. Life can be this AND that when you are willing to do the work to create a balance that works for you.
You can learn to hold both even when the burden feels heavy. You can, I promise.
How have you mastered “holding both” in your life and leadership? What have been your biggest lessons?