Imagine if you built a new house. You created this gorgeous home, yours.
Would you build a fence?
Would you create a garden path?
Would you make sure the house had a front door on it?
Or would you leave your house open… for anyone to walk in, YELL and SCREAM, make a mess, crash and party or stomp around with their dirty feet?
Or would you maybe put a front door on this gorgeous new house?
And perhaps also have a pathway, so people knew the way in.
And maybe even have a fence with a gate, which would deter strange animals (or people) from simply entering and running amok.
Might seem like an odd analogy, however, it’s what I use to explain setting boundaries.
As people, if we have no boundaries, or aren’t great at setting them and living them – it says to the world, walk on into my house, party, scream and stomp all over me.
Boundaries are crucial.
And we’re not talking about hitting a four or six on the cricket pitch here.
We are talking about those lines that get crossed, when people step over that ‘abstract line’ that exists for all of us, around what’s ok and what’s not ok. The lines in the sand that define who we are and aren’t, what we believe in and value and how we articulate that to the world.
Some of us may not have a great muscle around expressing those boundaries, perhaps we weren’t taught, perhaps someone has shut us down (many times) and we’ve lost our voice and the confidence needed to articulate them.
As a leader in the work environment:
– How much are we ok with things when it comes to productivity, performance, safety, growth, progress? Or not?
– Do we have high standards or standards or do we set the benchmark low?
– Will we allow others to speak to us or behave in a way that is really contradictory to what we really value?
It’s quite an individual thing.
It’s quite personal and it is influenced by so much.
Years ago, a certain boss, used to speak exceptionally poorly to our suppliers, yell and scream. It irked me so much. Yet, young and newer into the workforce, I never realised how much I valued kindness as a part of communication until with new bosses, who epitomised that style of communication.
Sometimes it takes experience what we don’t like, that is so opposite and contradictory to what we want to experience to realise, how far beyond our boundaries certain behaviours are.
So our boundaries are the picket fence around our home.
In some cases, people build brick walls.
They’re so tough and strong – there is no flexibility, no way through and they can be too rigid in many circumstances.
Some people have placed a few stones, yet lack the confidence and clarity to finishing off building and maintaining the fence.
I reckon the fence can always be refreshed and repainted. It can be changed as time passes, we experience different phases and stages of life and be improved as we age. Certain life experiences may also completely knock down the fence and we may need a complete rebuild.
As we decide what else matters, what else matters more or perhaps who else matters or matters more.
My kids and I frequently debate this one…. When it comes to SAFETY. I am the lioness.
I will protect my child or children at all costs. If they’re fighting with each other and start to step over the fence line (my fence line around being and staying safe), I’ll let them know.
At work when it comes to QUALITY.
I’ll demand quality work, that attention to detail and excellence, because it’s something important to me, for the team growth and for business success.
So what are you compromising on or not?
What are you not being clear about that really does matter to you?
Is it time to give the fence a bit of a paint up and refresh, because it’s been somewhat neglected?
Here’s a quick way to figure out what your boundaries are and how to re-establish them or give them a tweak if you want or need to:
Step 1 – Figure out what really matters to me
Make a list …. Gratitude, safety, health, excellence, growth – remember it’s your personal list (not anyone else’s)
Step 2 – What are my non-negotiables?
What are the things that are a must? That you ‘demand or command’ as a part of fulfilling your list of what’s important?
Make your list… Saying thank you, look left and right before crossing the road, speaking in a kind/respectful way etc – again this is your list only. It could be a combination of personal and professional things.
Step 3 – Where do I need to refresh or reset some boundaries?
What actions are others doing that is hitting my hot buttons, irritating or upsetting me?
They’ll be over-stepping your boundaries and values (what matters to you). Write that list.
Step 4 – What conversations now need to be had?
Now you have re-looked at some of the boundaries, what they are and why they matter, it could be time to have some important conversations. With a loved one, with a work colleague, with a boss or with your team?
Be brave. Trust. Remember why it matters.
Your boundaries are the picket fence to your beautiful home. Protect, look after and care for your home (you), because others won’t value it if you don’t.
Genevieve “Trusting” Matthews
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