Marisa Lister

Learning to Find Time for Me?

April 8, 2020

2.5 minute read

Portsmouth, NH

Contributed by Marisa B. Lister

We are in a totally unprecedented time, right (at least during my lifetime)?

I know for my family and me, our world has been upended.  I am now working from home while also trying to care for our 10-month-old, Owen, and “teach” my 6-year-old, Oliver (the materials being sent home from his 1st grade teacher).  I never wanted to be a stay at home mom or a teacher for that matter, so to say I feel a bit like a fish out of water is an understatement.

The first week I felt very frazzled, scared, and… overwhelmed.  I had so many questions running through my head; am I teaching Oliver the correct way to do this math problem (I can pretty confidently say no, but he got it!)? When will I be able to dedicate some uninterrupted time to my work (I soon realized that was very unlikely, but I adapted)? Why isn’t Owen napping more regularly like he does at daycare?  I was exhausted after week one and realized something had to change.

Those of you who know me, know I am often called a “sleep-aholic”.  Since as long as I can remember, I have simply loved sleep.  Most weekends my eyes would not flutter open until 11am or Noon.  I know all of us cherish sleep, right? But I learned early on that I needed much more sleep than the average person to function at my highest potential.  Of course, the amount of sleep I was able to get changed dramatically when I had children, but once we got past the infant stages, I somehow managed to train my children to sleep-in.  Oliver doesn’t wake until 9am most mornings and the baby lets me sleep until 6:30am. For anyone with children you know this is rare! My point is, that while I may not get as much as I once did, I still manage to squeeze in 9-10 hours of sleep almost every night.

Okay, so now that I have set the stage for you in terms of just how much I LOVE and NEED sleep, I think you will be shocked when I tell you that most recently, I have been proactively waking up around 5:30am (ahead of my slumbering Owen) to squeeze in 45 minutes – 1 hour of ME TIME. The first morning all I did was make coffee, sit on my couch and browse through my email and social media posts.  It felt indulgent and I immediately realized how much I needed it.  The next day I made coffee and then did a load of laundry while also cleaning the kitchen.  Another day I decided to FaceTime with my dearest and oldest friend who wakes up at 5am every day and laughed to my heart’s content (there is nothing like a lifelong friend!).  What I soon realized was that forcing myself to wake up (something I never do) and deliberately making room for some personal time just for me before the chaos of the day and house began, allowed me to start my day in a much better mood, frame of mind, and all around more at peace.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that in my 38 years on this planet I have rarely put myself first.  Whether as a daughter, friend, colleague, sister, wife, or mother, I have always thought of others first.  I am not saying I have done that because it was a calling but more so because I often (for some very odd reason) felt guilty and selfish when doing things for myself.  And yes, ultimately, I do get joy from caring and taking care of others.  But as I got older, I realized not dedicating any time to myself would most likely come to bite me in the ass sooner than later.  I guess it took a pandemic to finally rear its ugly teeth!

While I wish I could say I had decided to do something more health conscious like working out or mediating, most mornings I don’t do much, but simply drink my coffee in silence and be.  But it’s my silence, my moment, my time, and for me that says a lot.

I am grateful that I have learned something about myself during this crazy time. I can’t promise it will continue after life goes back to “normal” but until then I will embrace it and realize that my moments are just that…mine.

What I am Reading / Listening to

Contributed by Richard C. Kimball

Alexander The Great (2011)
By Philip Freeman

This is the best of the many books I’ve read on the military conqueror, Alexander the Great. The history is fascinating, and the “lessons” are perhaps the most interesting especially as they relate to business owners.

Alexander was a student of Aristotle although he developed much of his leadership skills from his practical experiences. For over 2000 years Alexander has been considered as the greatest military leader in history and his lessons are taught at military colleges and universities from West Point to Sandhurst.

Some of the lessons I took from this book include an appreciation for Alexander’s compelling vision and focus on achievement. His loyalty to his soldiers was unrivaled and as he led them in battle, he never asked his men to take risks that wouldn’t take.  While his army was nearly 80,000 men, he was able to relate to them with his empathy, eloquence, and constancy of purpose.

It’s said Alexander never lost a battle.  He conquered the known world by age 32. He and his soldiers celebrated every victory with great fanfare which sometimes even included soldiers whose country had been conquered. He was a master of recognizing the accomplishments of individual soldiers regardless of rank.

Alexander read books on philosophy most every day and maintained a diary of successes and failures in his leadership.  He held regular sessions with his men to share ideas and seek advice. He recruited the best soldiers, trained them rigorously, and built teams committed to his vision. When cities were conquered he divided much of the riches with his soldiers.

While Alexander’s leadership was unequaled in many ways, his singular failing was not planning for his succession. As his success grew so did his arrogance. When he died at age 35 (323 BC)  his empire fractured as there was no clear succession plan.

There are some amazing lessons from Alexander we can all embrace—especially Entrepreneur Owner-Managers.

Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Quote

“I love everything about simplicity.  Just reading the word simplicity has a calming effect.  Complexity immobilizes people.  Complexity contributes to procrastination.  Greatness for those people with education and experience comes from simplifying complexity."

- Mark A. McNabb, Owner & President, McNabb Properties

Mark McNabb

Energy Creation

Contributed by Kim A. Errico

I’m about 2.5 months into Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshop The Marketing Seminar. This workshop is not designed for a specific executive role or title; rather it serves professionals who range from solo freelancers to CEOs and any type of organization that seeks to better understand their marketing strategy so they can cause the change they seek to make in the world.

I quickly learned that this is a very different form of professional development than any other program I’ve participated in over the years. It’s definitely not your typical 2-day conference or online class. The best way to describe how this seminar works is that it’s a customized online discussion board featuring questions and topics to guide and challenge your thinking in different ways. You are encouraged to be completely open and honest in your responses (there is no right or wrong) and to comment on at least 5 other responses. This way, you are getting direct feedback from others and can always be interacting with your peers. Some lessons are marketing-focused, some aren’t (a healthy balance in my opinion).

Some exercises take more time than others and most include a personal video from Seth Godin explaining the overall concept. There are 200 days of content and the discussion board runs 24/7. People from all over the world are participating at any given time and coaches are available to help if you get stumped along the way or need some encouragement. Like most things in life, ‘you get what you give’ in this program. For example, if you aren’t able to complete as many exercises as another person,  that doesn’t mean you’ve fallen behind. The lessons are always available and I’ve found that there’s usually another person who’s on the same timeline as me!

Overall, I haven’t decided if I like this format better than a 2-day conference or focused course. I’m still working my way through the exercises at my own pace and have definitely found that it forces me to think in ways I might not have before. If you’re looking to really take a deep dive into your marketing approach and meet others to provide you with different perspectives then I’d recommend looking into this workshop. If you’re into a more hands-on approach and don’t thrive as heavily in online communities than it might not be the best fit. As for me, I’m excited to keep charging through this workshop and sometimes find it’s approach refreshing and a nice escape from the every day grind.