Last week was my birthday, and for the past 5 years I’ve taken the opportunity to catch the last of summer and whisk the family away camping. It works well, because we book 12 months in advance and it means I always have an answer to dreaded ‘what are you doing for your birthday?’. I don’t really like THE fuss of a birthday and camping was a big part of my upbringing. I wanted my children to have some good memories of their own so it’s worked really well since we started doing it.
This year was different. Not really expecting them to say yes, I asked some friends to join us who we’d been camping with previously. When they said yes and booked, I was overcome with guilt - that I had broken some sacred family tradition filled with sausages, swimming and scooting, topped off with Coles’ finest birthday cake. My guilt was a little tempered with the knowledge that we had 1 day on either side to spend with ‘just us’, so we could get our family quality time in. But it bugged me and I couldn’t help but feel I’d done something wrong. Wasn’t the whole point of this annual trip to be just the 4 of us?
What was really going on was the feeling of ‘but we’ve always done it this way’
The morning of my birthday, I could not have imagined how special I’d feel when I walked back to my tent after an early morning swim to see it decorated with balloons, streamers and Coles finest ‘Happy birthday’ sign. Looking further, I saw a table topped with plastic wine glasses for birthday bubbles and candles ready for a cake. My friends and family - and our camping neighbours and their kids - joined us around the table to sing happy birthday. It was absolute magic.
I’d let people in and the outcome was simply magnificent and far better than I could have ever imagined or organised for myself.
Change can be positive: a reminder
My intent for sharing this is not to be indulgent. Far from it, the experience humbled me significantly.
It’s about letting people in
We know we’re supposed to delegate and help people around us upskill, allowing us the time to focus on our goals and objectives. But for so many reasons, we don’t. It might be ego, it may be fear, it may even feel like we’re doing it to protect someone. However…the truth is we can never really realise potential until we let others’ in.
On the way home from our trip, I was reflecting with my husband and describing all these feelings I’d had and how it had played out. He agreed with me that it was far better than what we had planned between us.
If only we’d had that conversation sooner
Where can you let others’ in?
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org