Neglect is one of those things that runs silent and runs deep. It sneaks up on you and when it does become visible and reveals itself, it has inflicted terrible damage. It is a trap of superiority and success.
One of the things that makes it so deadly is that no one consciously says to themselves, “I’m going to neglect my spouse or my health” More often than not, passion and being very busy causes some of these things to enter your blind spot and you take your eyes off these important areas while you are intensely focusing on things that have become higher priorities. After a while, the things you are neglecting start being disruptive because they are putting up a fight for your attention and care because you have stopped contributing to their needs. This creates turmoil in the neglected areas, which creates bad feelings and a lack of equilibrium, then a lack of performance ensues.
It’s kind of a weird paradox in which perhaps by working very hard on behalf of your spouse and family when you begin to neglect them, the very efforts you are putting forth for them begin to turn on you. The marriage is suffering, the family is suffering or perhaps your own health is suffering. Too much obsession in one area is creating a negative cascade of hurt feelings and damage in another area which eventually leads to chaos and pain for the executive or business owner.
Even though you might know you are juggling too many balls at any given time, you are banking on the continued, trust, love and support of those around you and your own physical stamina to sustain you, thinking someday things will lighten up. This is a huge mistake many do not realize they are making until it is too late. They have no idea how bad it really is until things blow up or begin to shut down. They continue on this long treadmill run without taking a break or changing the pace. The key to avoiding this is to schedule time for everything in your life to get some attention, not just continuing to perform until you can’t go any longer or an important relationship is in crisis or chaos.
As I said, this can be avoided by putting time in your schedule for everything important. In order to do this, you must have a mental mindset shift. The thing about high performers is, they don’t blame anyone but themselves. They don’t blame a lack of time or support; they place most of the blame on their own shoulders. Too much neglect of the most important things in their lives is an accountability they readily accept. Most of the time, they simply did not recognize they were doing it. I’ve written extensively about blind spots before and this myopia around these most important aspects of life is simply a reality. Most of the performers I have coached who have experienced failure due to neglect just didn’t realize the growing problems that were about to overcome them. They were blindsided. Truly too distracted in other areas to pay attention.
Another reason for neglect is that when you are good at something, you want more. An incredible desire for more and more. You combine this with shorter and shorter time frames and you then get over commitment and under capacity. The same thing happens when a gambler wins a hand, a round or a game. That awesome feeling of winning leads to “chasing it”. The same thing with someone who is very addicted to a drug. The high isn’t the same anymore after some time passes, and you end up doing more and more chasing that feeling of euphoria they once had when they first started using the drug. Elite level performers have to be on the watch for this impulse too. You must train yourself for less instead of more. You being to condition yourself to zero in on just the vital few things that move the needle and protect your time and well-being so you can engage more with those around you. You can really enjoy your craft and handle your accountabilities with confidence and finesse. When you become good at what you do, less becomes more.
When performers broaden their scopes too widely your insatiable appetite will overload your capacity to respond to opportunity. There’s an old saying, keep the main thing the main thing. When you first begin your career, you become successful by saying yes to as many things as you can, when you reach the elite level status, you learn to say no way more often. When you are starting, you are testing your capacities, discovering your strengths, striking while the iron is hot. There are a lot of wonderful things that come from high performance. You have it all going for you, lots of attention is being paid to you, lots of opportunities coming your way and you feel a little scared that since hustling and grinding get you here, abandoning it seems like a mistake. But, if you continue to hustle and grind on higher and higher levels, you will burn out faster and if you continue to do it, you will put everything and risk and possibly lose it all.
Take ownership of your day, take time to really take care of your schedule. This is where reviewing your calendar and your daily and weekly priorities every morning and night is crucial. Say no to good opportunities that will stretch your day too far. If it’s going to rob of your quality time with your spouse, your family or your team, then its opportunity costs are too high. If it’s going to rob you of a few nights’ sleep, force you to compromise on another project you have agreed to, or a nice vacation, just say no. If it’s going to cram your day so tight that you have no time for strategic thinking, or some kind of exercise or rejuvenation, pass on it.
If you feel you have entered elite-level performer status, do not neglect the truly important things in your life. Your spouse, your children, other family members, your health, other important relationships, hobbies, finances or spirituality all deserve some attention and quality time from you. There may be other areas I haven’t mentioned you want to self-monitor as well, you need to write those down to investigate. You need to remind yourself to slow down, be patient. You have plenty of skill and plenty of time to keep your performance building and receiving the rewards that accompany that. You can scale yourself up in your field of interest and competency deliberately and patiently. Play the long game by saying yes less frequently and no more often. If you apply some of this advice into your life and performance, you can truly have it all.