Jan dove into our coaching session by talking about how busy she had been lately. Being a stay-at-home mom, there weren’t slow times or busy seasons as may be the case in a business office. Every day was just as busy as the day before. The dynamics and schedule may change from day-to-day, but she was still responsible for managing the household and raising her kids while her husband, Jeff, worked.
“Yesterday my schedule was completely off,” she began. “I thought I had it all planned, but then Danny woke up with a fever. Not able to take him to day care threw a wrench in my whole day. Jeff was unable to help and my mom is out of town.”
She continued to explain the craziness and got even more exhausted as she recounted her story. Listening helped because it gave her a space in which to vent.
I then interrupted her and asked, “Jan, how are YOU in all of this?” She paused and immediately shifted from telling the story, to getting present with her feelings.
Jan looked at me and swallowed the words that were halfway out her mouth. “How am I?” she asked as she looked down, a slight break in her voice. “I haven’t slowed down long enough to know,” Jan said. “No one ever asks how I am.” She said.
I asked again, “Jan, how are you?”
“I’m sorry I’m so emotional,” she said grabbing a tissue. “People just don’t normally ask how I am doing. My life is about asking others how they are doing and being in service to their needs. Take the kids for example. My energy starts flowing the second I get up in the morning.”
“Where else does your energy flow out?” I asked.
“All over the place!” she said. “It’s amazing I have any left at the end of the day. I feel empty.”
“Since you were talking about flow and feeling empty, let’s play with the analogy of a water pitcher,” I suggest. “This morning when you got up, how full was your pitcher?”
“I slept well last night so my pitcher was about three-quarters full this morning.”
“It’s about 4 o’clock now. Based on the stories you told me earlier, how full is your water pitcher now?” I asked.
She held up her fingers about an inch apart to symbolize that the water level in her “pitcher” had dropped significantly.
“How do you fill your pitcher? You mentioned sleep, but what else and how often do you get to fill it?”
“I fill my pitcher by going to the bookstore, enjoying a movie, reading my book, and once a month, I get girls’ night out,” Jan said smiling.
“If your pitcher today is nearly empty, how and when will you fill it?” I asked.
“That’s the problem. I continually pour water from my pitcher and rarely fill it up. It’s no wonder I get irritated; I’m empty most of the time!” Jan said.
“How can you remind yourself to fill your water pitcher so you have enough water to pour for others?” I said, continuing the analogy.
“I will fill a pitcher and set it on my kitchen counter to remind me to keep monitoring my water levels and keep my pitcher full.”
“How will you fill it tonight so you start tomorrow with enough water?”
“I’ll stop by the bookstore on my way home and take a nice warm bath tonight after the kids go to bed. I’ll even email you tomorrow to let you know I did it. I know how you are about accountability.”
As we closed our session, I handed Jan a water bottle and said, “Here’s to filling your pitcher.”
Coaching Challenge: Use the water pitcher analogy to measure your energy levels. Pretend as though you started today with a full pitcher of water. Where did you pour water (energy) out of your pitcher and where did you fill it? Notice how full is the pitcher when you go to bed and again when you wake up. How can you continue to add enough water to keep the pitcher full?