The Intertwining of Professional and Personal: a Note from Rob

JociRob 008 The Intertwining of Professional and Personal: a Note from Rob

My Hands on Jocelyn’s Knees Last Weekend – With “DAX: The Way I Like It (Uh huh, Uh huh)” Sticker Making an Appearance
(And this was, believe it or not, a 100% candid moment – as well as an incredibly emotional one)
(Photo Credit:  Rebecca Hellyer Photography)

Let’s start with some “TMI.”  My wife Jocelyn and I – the original co-founders of this company – have had a simultaneously amazing and difficult 8+ years.

Amazing in the professional sense – starting a business and having it grow to a point where we can honestly say we’re re-making an entire industry is incredibly validating.

And amazing in the personal sense too – SO MANY LIVES have been improved!  We hear ALL THE TIME from people who gush about how these tools have changed their lives, and how thankful they are to US for helping show the way with our posts, books, training, and consulting.

That’s actually the primary theme of today’s post – that the personal and professional are NOT separated by some sharp and definable boundary.  In fact, my point today is that there is actually no boundary at all.

But before we go there, let’s give you the as-promised transparency and borderline-TMI:  personally, behind the scenes, reinventing OURSELVES over the past 8+ years has taken an incredible toll.  I’ve hinted at this before of course (and it’s amusing to note that the 10k-views milestone reported in that latter post is something we now flirt with in a single day), but nothing like what I’m about to share today.

Sadly in the course of doing all of this amazing professional stuff, we (my wife and I) lost ourselves AND each other.  And it was only in the past 2-3 months that we started finding ourselves – and each other – again.  Nothing brings perspective quite like such a moment.

Which partially explains my relative sparseness of posting lately.  For sure, I’ve been busy with “the personal.”  But the other reason for my absence here was that it’s THESE “kinds” of posts, like today’s, that I WANT to be writing, and that I also want to pass the torch to a new “generation” of awesome people here at P3.  They deserve their time “at the microphone,” and YOU deserve to hear from them, because they have things to share that I cannot teach.  If I’m Yoda, they are Obi-Wan, and Qui-Gonn, and Shaak Ti, and Stass Allie, and…  yeah, I’m off course here…

This past weekend I surprised Jocelyn with a semi-elaborate “Re-Wedding.”  It was the single-best weekend of my entire life – not just because of Jocelyn and I, but because of the amazing people who were able to join us on short notice.  The invite was a website – a website we are going to keep forever, because it’s much more than just an invite – it’s our STORY…

image The Intertwining of Professional and Personal: a Note from Rob

Click Image to Visit the Site
(And learn, perhaps, more than you ever wanted to learn about us heh heh)

So, the picture at the top of this post, of my hands on her knees – that’s of her seeing the website for the first time, in a rented van on the way up to Wisconsin (supposedly for her brother’s 10th anniversary celebration – the reveal of the secret happened en route, heh heh).

I’d be remiss, at this point, if I didn’t put in a “plug” for the value of therapy – and counseling, and whatever other mental-health/self-care labels you prefer.  It’s a cliché of course that relationships require “work,” but I think that word (work) conjures the wrong image – of gritting one’s teeth and lifting something heavy, as if “knuckling down” is going to fix things.  Yes there IS some component of that – it WAS “heavy work” to merely SURVIVE these past 8 years as a couple for instance – but to FIX things…  it requires a SMARTER kind of effort, as opposed to something brute force.  The difference between “bad” therapy and truly-excellent therapy, for instance, is ENORMOUS.  You need the right kinds of resources, the kind that helps to TELL you things that you need to hear, and at the same time, you must be willing to HEAR those things, because they are often uncomfortable.

Anyway, I could go on forever on that point, and I would NOT feel “unprofessional” for doing so, because hey, that’s the whole point of today’s post – to attack this silly notion that there’s some difference between the personal and the pro components of our lives!  But that theme itself IS more widely-applicable, and I want to get back to it. 

(Hey folks – should I fire up http://robcollie.com for these sorts of other, so-called “off topic” posts?  I need it to be justifiable – yes, Professionally – for me to do something so Personal.  So your votes count.)

Anyway…  back to the core theme…

We’ve all heard this “INPIJB” phrase yes?  And some of us even use it from time to time.  Ask yourself, WHEN do you hear (or use) said phrase?  Yeah, you always hear it when someone is hurting someone else, and the person DOING the hurt wants to absolve themselves of it.  That’s a hint.

I’m here to say, today, that it IS ALWAYS PERSONAL.  When we look closely at “INPIJB,” we see that it couldn’t POSSIBLY be more silly.  When we strip away the personal, what is left?  Yeah, take away all of the people and all of the feelings in the situation – what remains?  A bunch of office furniture?  A building?  Some corporate logos?  Some tech gadgets?  Nothing that matters remains.  PERSONAL IS ALL THERE IS.

I want to encourage you to never use this phrase, and to never accept it when you hear it.  It is always personal – for both parties.  Heck, “the professional” exists merely as a means to TAKE CARE OF THE PERSONAL.  If they didn’t pay you, you wouldn’t show up.  We all work to better ourselves and our position in life.  We all work to put food on the table – both literally and figuratively.

One more time:  “the Personal” is ALL THERE IS.  Never forget that.

 The Intertwining of Professional and Personal: a Note from Rob

Jocelyn and Rob – the first two “Pros” at PowerPivotPro – Rediscovering “The Personal” for Themselves
(Photo Credit:  Rebecca Hellyer Photography)

No, of course not.  You’re always going to have to disappoint others from time to time in the course of taking care of yourself.  To quote Joe Rogan, “the universe wants conflict and resolution, it does not want ‘equal.’”

Some people are REALLY good at taking care of themselves.  They put themselves first.  They also put themselves second and third.  And fourth, and…  you get the idea.  These people tend to be quite fond of the INPIJB phrase.  (I’m not suggesting the inverse however – if you occasionally say INPIJB, that doesn’t mean you’re one of these selfish sorts.  But the selfish sorts DO love them some INPIJB).

Other people are SUPER good at taking care of others.  In contrast to the first group, they sacrifice themselves repeatedly, often to the point of martyrdom.  We don’t want to be THESE folks either.

At times in my life, I’ve been both of these unhealthy extremes.  I’ve been overly-selfISH and overly-selfLESS.  While the latter seems a bit more noble, I don’t think happiness lies down either road.

The challenge, dear friends, is to simultaneously be responsible to others AND to yourself. 

I can hear you right now saying, “oh c’mon, we read this far for THIS little nugget?  Of COURSE we already knew that!”  To which I say, “yes and no – yeah, you never would have challenged the ‘truth’ of that statement, but there IS tremendous power in FOCUSING on it.”  I, at least, have found it to be quite useful.  It doesn’t immediately resolve moral or ethical quandaries, but it DOES set the table properly, and give you a clear lens through which to view a decision, whereas by default we often find ourselves spiraling endlessly on yes/no questions like “can I really do that to my colleagues, leave them for a better job?” for instance.  Viewing it through the “taking care of me AND taking care of others” lens has helped me resolve quandaries, and in both directions (as in, sometimes it helps me choose “my” interests, and sometiems it helps me choose others’ – and still other times, has given me the insight to find yet a third way forward.)

And yeah, when there’s a tie…  feel free to break said tie in favor of you.  But be honest about it – both with yourself and others – as to what you’re doing and why.

Resist the temptation to hide behind clearly-false sayings like INPIJB. 

To tease a future post, I want to further emphasize that, when you acknowledge and embrace that The Personal is both the power source and the end goal of The Professional, you can move mountains – both as individuals and as organizations.

As automation and AI continue to chip away at our employment options, I think the Human sides of us are going to be ever-more-important (until, of course, the AI catches up with THAT, too, heh heh).

Stay tuned.

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