We were struck by the spiritual threads woven throughout this ‘secular’ book, published by Harvard Business School. The last chapters of the book are about self-care, which is essential in general but especially if you’re leading people through perilous but necessary change.
In one of these latter chapters Heifetz/Linsky talk about the need for “transitional rituals,” in which we peel off the professional layers and become ourselves again. This is a peculiar and particular challenge for me, partly because I am tri-vocational (mothering, writing, pastoring) and partly because I work from home. The boundaries, both physical and mental, become blurred. The place where I put together session agendas and write sermons (in our blue room) is also where I write articles, connect with far-flung friends, and watch Kideos with my children.
I also think that this “take off your professional persona” thing can be unhelpful. I know what they’re getting at. However, most people I know are seeking a life of authenticity and congruence. My three vocations (and countless other adjunct ones) require different kinds of activities. But I would hope that I am the same person regardless of what hat I wear. Clergy will sometimes lament, “You’re never not the pastor.” Yes, but hopefully, you’re also never not yourself too.
Still, I was taken by this transitional ritual idea. Caroline gets off the bus at 4, which is when I start to wind down the work day. By 5:15, Robert is home and I need to turn my face toward the mothering role.
So here is what I’ve decided to do by way of transition:
Make my to-do list for the next day. I am not a morning person, and having a list of things to do, all ready to go in the morning, is the equivalent of parking downhill.
Turn off the computer. Sounds obvious, but I was often leaving it on because I work a lot in the evenings. But turning it off flips a mental switch… and I can always turn it on later if I need to.
Store the iPhone. I physically walk upstairs and plug it in to charge. That means it’s nowhere near my person during dinner and bedtime. (OK, sometimes I forget to do this. Robert reads this blog.)
A spoken litany. This bit of prayer from the New Zealand prayer book does the trick:
Lord, it is evening after a long day.
What has been done has been done.
What has not been done has not been done.
Let it be… let it be.