Friday, February 18, 2011

The Philosophy of Boundaries

This post comes on the hinges of a deeply personal conversation I had with a dear and trusted family member. She has recently gone through some humps in the road called life. The themes in the conversation resonated not only as important to one's personal life and how they conduct that life, but also in business, and I thought I would share some of the insight. You can take away from this what resonates with you, but the real theme is personal responsibility and boundaries. In this person's case, she was faced with some of the usual corporate politics, and she did not like them. She was also faced with some personal difficulties, as she was ending a relationship. First, what she realized is that she needed to take responsibility for what she had done in the past that put her where she was today. We live in a culture that typically makes the blame game permissible. Something happens, not my fault. I didn't do anything. It's the other person's fault. We even seek permission from others to "support" our blame game. We live in denial to support our blame game. Accountability goes out the window. I didn't do anything. This all happened TO me. Bo Bradley, founder of Manifest U, calls this "Victimhood" and uses a cute reference to a well-staped "V" on the forehead to make her point. "Whoa as 'V.'"

First, on the road to taking charge is self-awareness. What part did I play? What really happened here? Once you stop pointing the finger outward and point inward, you will likely come to some interesting revelations. And then the next step, involves boundaries. Set appropriate boundaries for any situation -- and most importantly honor those boundaries. And here is something super interesting. When you honor the boundaries you do two things -- you tell people your word is good and your boundaries cannot be pushed, and you honor yourself.

My friend going through these difficulties realized that she needed to first realize she needed boundaries -- and then she needed to set them -- and then she needed to honor them. What I have found is that when I honor my boundaries, I make a strong statement about my worth. It actually feels great to honor boundaries. You are then as good as your word, and those people who would step over those boundaries soon learn something too. They realize they cannot do that, and they know you have integrity. It doesn't mean they will always like this fact, but it's a excellent practice both personally and professionally. And here is the best part. You will feel good about whatever the decision that resulted from setting those boundaries. It's an interesting process, but it's also a healthy, mature process to embrace. And you'll find it's very good for business -- and a balanced, stable personal life too.

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