Don't keep pushing. I am not ok.
I remember the routine of picking up my father in law early in the morning on the way to the hospital to see my mother in law, who was very unwell. I stayed for an hour with her and then went to work. It was about 5 days into that routine and I noticed my stress levels had reached their top range. Actually they were way past my coping limits. I had also just had two weeks being primary carer for my own dad who was unwell and I was so I was very sad and emotionally spent.
There was also a great deal of change at my work, new strategies, new plans and a request for me to take on more responsibility. I could barely hold my own head up, let support my family and now more work.
Work knew what was going on in my personal life and provided some level of flexibility but only when it suited them. When I was primary carer for my dad, I asked to have meetings clumped on the same days so I could work from home a few days a week, that request was not respected. And then when my mother in law deteriorated I asked to have some time off and there was a suggestion I did not have any leave. Instead of hearing my calls for help, their priority was for me to be at meetings and continue to contribute to the business.
My ability to maintain my work, my grief and my family was diminishing fast. And when my dad went into hospital again, it was my last straw. But instead of asking me if I was ok, my work kept piling on the expectations. More client meetings, more strategies for the business, more forecasting and more conversations about my ability to be present, kind and considerate during the change process. I just couldn't do that. I had nothing left for me, my family or my colleagues.
So I told my work how I was feeling and showed them my vulnerabilities. Even then, they never asked me for what I needed or if I was ok. There was sympathy but mostly irritation, as I was key to their business and I was falling apart at the seams.
If I had only been offered some time to heal. A week or so would have helped. But no one actually asked me what I needed or how they could help. Life happens and it can be really difficult. Sometimes the hits make it a bit hard to stand up by yourself. It is these times when you have to know that there is always help and there is always support even though it may not seem that way in the environment you are in.
People generally behave unpredictably when they are stressed. This unpredictable behaviour can cause you to avoid them or judge them. Maybe just sense that the person you are avoiding or judging might need a little help, a little direction toward support, a small gesture of kindness or maybe just a little juggle in their work setup to release the pressure.
Ask your friends, ask your colleagues, ask, ask and ask again. Can I help? What do you need? Take notice of those around you and know where you can turn if the conversation gets hard and you need an extra professional hand, there are plenty available.
I eventually left that organisation, as I did not have anymore to give. However that is not a good solution for any person. Supporting your employees and your colleagues, knowing their limitations and balancing their lives with your expectations as a business, is what truly makes a great leaders and even better organisations.
Reach out to someone and just have a conversation about how they are or what is going on for them. It will make a difference, believe me.
For a further conversation about coaching, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or my contact page.