I can’t count the number of times I’ve dropped the ball in the last year and a half. I believe it started the day I ate ice cream before 11am, which was also the day I found out I was pregnant.
On that day, I felt like my emotions raged through the hormonal floodgates, and my body washed up on some distant and unfamiliar shore. My entire first trimester can be described as an emotional soup, hallmarked by brain-fog, insatiable hunger, and overwhelming exhaustion.
I would wake in the morning bleary-eyed, shower and have breakfast, sleep for another 90 minutes, eat, “work” (haha) for 90 minutes, sleep for another 90 minutes, eat, “work” for 90…and on and on.
I remember calling a girlfriend who has two kids and a 9-5, and saying, “You are a warrior. How did you do it?” She said “I napped under my desk and cried behind my sunglasses on the way to Starbucks. And worse, no one knew I was pregnant. It was awful.”
I felt like I had two options: Go against my body’s clear signals or push through. I tried pushing a few times, but I would literally fall asleep on my computer, and then there would be more tears. So I waved the white flag and surrendered to sleeping and eating 20 hours a day.
Oh, how I dropped the ball.
Some people think of integrity as doing what we say we’re going to do. Period. Others think of integrity as being in alignment with our inner truth, even if it messes with our agreements. I think integrity is to be found somewhere in between.
INTEGRITY: Intend and plan to follow-through, 100%. If your inner truth shows up along the way and says, “actually, no”, see if it’s flexible (it often is). If it’s not, have conversations, explore, find a new win-win, or cut ties with compassion. But for sure, COMMUNICATE.
That was the thing I didn’t do so well (I’m still working on it), because I was still convincing myself that I could haul my ass out of bed, tie my cape back on and do it all. “For sure, this week, I can catch up.” (Btw, I still tell myself this often)
We are sold the dream that we can have it all. But what I now recognize is that underneath that dream is the story that we can DO it all, we can BE it all. And, we should.
With a big dream and a little elbow grease, you too can be a super-spiritual-philanthropist-activist-yogini-poetess-homemaker-lover-mother-entrepreneur, with regular blow-outs, a book in the works, and sexy lingerie under that goddess dress! No pressure.
It’s not the desire to do/have/be it all that’s inherently problematic. It’s the idea that we *should*, if we want to be a whole, complete, and respectable woman. If we’re not doing one of those things perfectly, then surely we *should* be aspiring to.
It’s important for us to understand the way these inherited “ideals” weave through our psyches, and how they contribute to our delusions about how much we can – and should – take on.
When we “drop the ball”, it’s usually because we’ve been attempting to juggle too much for our capacity at that time. And it’s okay to have limited capacity – we live in human bodies.
But we’ve got to clean things up when it happens, both to reconnect with and show up for those who were relying on us, and to come out of shame and hiding. We can’t radiate in our leadership if we’re unwilling to resolve the messes we’ve made. Here’s what I’ve learned from dropping the ball more times and in more ways than I care to admit…
HOW TO REGAIN YOUR LEADERSHIP WHEN YOU’VE DROPPED THE BALL
Forgive yourself for not being perfect
We are not here to model perfection, we are here to model love-in-action. This isn’t about being flippant about where we’ve dropped the ball, it’s about saying to ourselves, “Okay, I dropped the ball. I’m human. Let me see how I can clean this up and do better going forward.” Gentle. True.
Get clear on what really matters to you
I’ve dropped the ball with emails because I was too busy learning about what was happening in the world. I’ve dropped the ball with clients because my body felt depleted. I’ve dropped the ball with going to yoga because I was lost in an Instagram rabbit-hole. I’ve dropped the ball with work deadlines because my baby needed me, and I needed sleep. In the hierarchy of importance, some things have to be more important than others, so we can get clear on how to spend our time. Baby > Work Deadlines > Instagram. It puts things in perspective.
Choose which balls to drop
This has been a hard lesson for me, and I continue to take my medicine around it. If we’re dropping balls, we may be juggling too much, yeah? So rather than push to try and be a better juggler, why not consciously choose to put some of those balls down. For me, it’s been having a perfectly tidy house and being on top of email (sorry, people who email me). But the people in my inner circle (including clients) have access to me outside of email, and my house is clean enough.
Create a structure to live into a new commitment
Do you need help clearing out your inbox? To delete Facebook from your phone? To have your partner handle dinner one more night a week? To restructure your workflow? To stop signing up for that class you never actually attend, and do something else instead? To rally the family around an earlier bedtime?
Communicate & make it right
What I’ve found most effective in these communications is to be clear and accountable for the fact you’ve dropped the ball; it’s fine to offer context, but don’t shirk responsibility. I’ve found it valuable to acknowledge any impact of that, share any personal learnings, offer any recompense, and offer an honest and sincere commitment for how I will move forward.
Last year when I was a hot-pregnant-mess, I dropped the ball somewhat in my engagement with my mastermind women. I acknowledged it, cleaned it up, and offered them more 1-on-1 time with me and extended the length of the mastermind. For the most part, people are understanding when we make mistakes, when we own them and show up differently.
In two, three, five years your life will look different. The kids will be more independent, or you’ll have done more therapy, or that nagging project will be finished and off your mind. What would your wise Future Self advise you to do? How would she help you navigate these seasons of dropped balls? With her years of learned-the-hard-way insights, what knowledge would she impart? (If you’re not sure, this guided meditation can help you access that Future You wisdom.)
Be playful with your aspirations
We can explore our desires and the things that matter to us with tension, perfectionism, angst, self-loathing, and worry. Or we can explore them with curiosity, warmth, and playfulness. When we’re moving through life with more flexibility in our hearts, minds, and nervous systems, we’re more able to see where things are askew, more willing to re-engage when we’ve teetered off path, more willing to own our capacity and challenges with generosity and grace.
We are human.
And that’s okay.