Ever known someone who always has time for other people? Someone perhaps who works through their breaks on a regular basis, maybe shortens their lunch just so they can give a client some personal time? Maybe you know someone who works all day and then comes home only to leave again and go volunteer their time for the benefit of some social organization or cause. How do they do it and where do they get all that energy from?
Those questions are good ones; especially if you are the kind of person that puts in a days work and then comes home and feels the need to plop down on the couch and your done as far as being able to rally yourself to help someone else.
I’m not leading to a conclusion by the way which is going to encourage you to be one of those who continuously give of themselves. No, that’s an individual choice and one you can make for yourself or not. It certainly doesn’t fall to me to suggest you be one kind of person or another in this respect. I just think it’s interesting to see the givers for who they are.
Now contrast this kind of person; the one who makes extra time for their clients seemingly all the time. Be it as they walk in the building and are accosted by an unscheduled client just wanting a minute, someone at break or lunch time who’s needs are pressing, or the client who just needs some social interaction after class and doesn’t want to return home to the isolation of their bachelor apartment.
Contrast this person I say but with whom? Let’s go with the worker who needs to get in to their workplace and get settled first, check their emails, check their hair, have a bite to eat before seeing anyone, then who at break exercises their right to a full 15 minutes of alone time, and their lunch hour isn’t a lunch hour unless it’s a full hour; and finally who at the end of the day, switches off their client concern as they switch off the lights.
Before you say the picture I’m painting of the second person is unfair, I think in many respects that person is fully entitled to start and end their workday as their contract lays out. They are equally entitled to take whatever lunch and break periods that their employer has set out. They are not to be vilified in any way, least of all by me – for going about their job and doing what is expected of them.
No, I’m focused here more on the person who just gives and gives. Where does that energy come from to do not just every so often but on a continuous basis? I think these people by and large are fueled differently. They get genuine energy from the moments of connectivity that helping others provides. If a client really wants more of their time, they put the clients purpose and needs ahead of their own without reservation. Often the times they do say they can’t give someone the time, it’s only because they’ve previously committed to giving of their time to someone else. Even then they don’t say no absolutely, but offer to make time for the person soon.
The people who give and give of themselves do run a risk of giving so extensively that without making concerted efforts to replenish themselves they may literally exhaust themselves physically and mentally. The result? A person who lives to give but is ineffective and conflicted in their ability to give. This can cause the person who doesn’t read the signs correctly to actually struggle to give more when there’s nothing to give.
The easiest metaphor or image I can share would be a container of water. If the water represents the good will one has and is continuously emptied without ever being replenished, it will eventually be exhausted. There has to be a mechanism or process of filling that container with additional water in order that there be water to share as needed with others.
Now this kind of person who fails to replenish can become fatigued; their inability to give weigh on them and who knows, a complete mental breakdown would not be unexpected. Only after a mental health leave and truly taking time to regenerate and revitalize would the person have any real chance of once again being effective in their ability to give of themselves for the benefit of others.
For most of us, the replenishment we need comes from what we do in our evenings and weekends. We get momentarily refocused and recharged on our lunches if we go for a walk, talk with our coworkers, squeeze in a trip to the store. In short, we build in moments of self-repair with a change in activity that focuses more on our own needs.
Look out for yourself as you go about your work if you see yourself as a continual giver. If you want to be helpful, watch out for your co-workers; recognize the signs of those who might be in danger of exhausting their reserves. Suggest going for a walk at lunch together, just sitting down and engaging in conversation about things outside of work that would be of personal interest to the person.
When you take the time to self-govern your giving, you may just be able to give more and for longer. Stay healthy out there.