You can’t read the label from inside the jar – Mountain Lesson No. 40

artwork of a man looking stressed

Are you stressed out, overworked, overweight, underpaid, undervalued, tired, emotional, angry, short-tempered, frustrated, disappointed, unhappy and wondering “what next?” or “is this it?”

If you’re working long hours, not making enough money, struggling to switch off after work and feeling stressed out at night, you’re not alone. In fact, this is a common scenario not just for business owners, but professionals and employees, too. For some, it’s the reason why one drink after work turns into two or three.

Wearing so many hats is exhausting, and leaves nothing in your tank for the people that really need it and deserve it. In a meeting with a client recently we were talking about purpose, mission, focus and how they (the client) were blinded by one apparent mission in order to achieve the other. Working their b*tt off, not sure if they’re working on the right things and wondering if they need help.

And then coming down Mount Lofty the other day it occurred to me that people are exhausted and they just don’t know what to do or who to ask for help.

Money is a goal and (apparent) purpose for many people, but standing behind that goal is a bigger purpose––we just can’t see it from where we’re standing. Blinded by the shortsighted focus of money, we don’t see the real purpose, that which the money will help us to achieve. More time with family, giving back to the community, solving bigger problems and so on.

Making money often drives us to succeed and push through ours doubts, droughts and lack of resources. What we end up doing is trying harder, working longer hours and also defaulting to doing the things that we enjoy doing while disregarding the things that we don’t enjoy.

Blair Enns once said that you can’t read the label from inside the jar. While we’re standing in the proverbial forest of our work and life, amidst the action, fighting, defending, building, selling, producing, planning, hustling, resting, loving, sleeping, exercising and driven by false purpose, rarely can we see what we need to do more of. On the flip side, we can’t see what we need to do less of either.

To be balanced in life, let alone successful, there are a number of dials that we need to be watching. Without another perspective, such as a copilot, generally we just put the dials on the dashboard that we want to see, the dials that make us—our ego—feel good, and ignore the ones which we hope will solve themselves. In many cases, we don’t even know which dials we need on the dashboard, so we put the task on the list to be done ‘one day’.

“I should do more marketing because I need more sales… I’ll get to it soon”.

“I should do more exercise because I want to feel better about myself… I’ll start when the weather gets better”.

What about fuelling your body, not just your business or career? Hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with have complained of being tired, can’t sleep, don’t have time to eat well, wishing they had more energy, wishing they weighed less, wishing they had more money… and so on. I know what you’re thinking right now.

“Yeah but I don’t have time and nothing that I try seems to work!”

So, where do you start? What’s the first hole in the bucket to plug and what do you plug it with? Maybe if you’re inside the bucket, or jar, you can’t even see that it’s leaking! This is why having an accountability partner can be so critical to moving closer to your goal. Someone to ask you questions—questions you either don’t want to answer or are afraid to ask yourself. Questions like;

  • what are your strengths?

  • what are your values?

  • how much money do you want to make and why?

  • what do you enjoy about your work?

  • If you could start all over again, would you do the same thing?

  • What are you prepared to do to change the outcomes?

And what about your cup—your emotional cup? Mack Newton teaches us that “the usefulness of the cup is in its emptiness”. To experience new things, we need to let go of the old and make room for the new. Chances are that your cup is full. It’s full of emotion, full of disappointment, full of frustration, completely full and about to overflow! There’s no room for anything new.

Tom Rath, Global Practice Leader for the Gallup's Clifton StrengthsFinder, writes about our metaphorical buckets in his book ‘How Full Is Your Bucket?’ How do we keep that bucket full of good emotions and experiences, and keep ourselves brimming with positive energy? One of the key strategies is to prevent bucket dipping, to get rid of negativity from ourselves and our environment.

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."—Albert Einstein.

And here’s the thing—you can’t go on living like this! Something’s gotta give! Maybe it’s time to talk to someone. Maybe it’s time to get some advice. Seek out somebody whose trodden the path or has the tools to help you move forward. Life coach. Business Coach. Strengths Coach, Relationship Coach. Health Coach. Spiritual Coach. Clearing Practitioner, Counsellor, Therapist, the list goes on.

There’s a whole world of people and tools that can guide you from where we are to where you want to be. 

Just take the first step. Start a conversation, start getting the right dials on your dashboard and begin taking purposeful action.

It’s time to step up and be amazing.


Ps. In case you’re now thinking “what’s the first step?” book a free session with me and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash