Regardless of how old I or my children get, September will forever have that back to school feel. This year, as the Labor Day weekend drew to a close, we gathered with friends to mark this annual cycle with food, drink, discussion about what to wear the first day back (!) and wistful comments about another summer coming to a close too quickly. As I was grabbing a dish, I saw my friend’s 11-year old daughter’s (Maya’s) to-do list on the family blackboard and was stunned to see, in all caps, the final item on the list: “FEEL COMPLETED.” When we asked Maya what she meant by that, she answered that it was not just about checking off the items, but really feeling that they had been done well and were truly finished. Wow, talk about “out of the mouths of babes”!
What does it mean, as adults, to “feel completed”? There are numerous ways to address this: completing tasks; being satisfied that we are, and have enough; knowing that we’ve given our best effort; and/or surrounding ourselves with people who complete and complement us (and maybe even compliment us!).
In the early days of Heyman Partners, I created a workshop series entitled “Own It.” The workshops were designed to enable participants to identify their deepest desires about their lives and take responsibility for designing them to be as fulfilling as possible. A key component was owning where they were great, where they were stuck, where they were afraid, where they needed help, and where they truly wanted to go. I suppose that in the end, I wanted them to feel completed, residing in that place where the balance of effort and ease (for you yogis and yoginis, think sthira and sukha), purpose and passion, analysis and intuition, exist.
We constantly need to assess when something is done, or as my friend Seth Godin would say, “ready to ship.” While this means that we must allow for things to be good enough so that we can put them out in the world – the proposal, the planning, the draft, the estimate, the conversation – it’s incumbent on each of us to know what’s required to feel complete. What is the standard we are aiming for? Excellence? Just passing? Avoiding confrontation? Exhausting every possibility? It takes real self-knowledge to know where your threshold lies. I recommend that you use Seth’s workbook, SHIP IT, an incredible tool for self-discovery, especially in the workplace. Alternatively, you can try this: identify a time when you felt that something was truly done. What was present? What quality of work, analysis or interaction existed to enable you to feel comfortable and ready to hit send? How did you feel – physically, emotionally, or mentally? What can you learn and apply to future tasks and conversations?
As we head back to school, back to work, back to fall, back to the land, or back to the drawing board, may we do so having done the major spade work of knowing what is required for us to feel complete(d). In this way, our efforts have integrity and bring deep satisfaction.