I don’t know if I have her quote exactly right, it was a speech that started at 9pm CST, when I had awoke to an alarm at 5am EST to drive 5 hours to Chicago, sit in a seminar all day and network for a few hours.
My favorite “quote” was this: There’s no honor in being a doormat.
(Putting the “”s around “quote” and not “the quote” because I may not have gotten the words right!)
Now, I think that Marissa was using the statement in a Sheryl-Sandberg-Lean-In kind of way. Like, don’t let people walk all over you just because you’re a woman or want to perceived as “nice”.
I totally respect and appreciate that sentiment, but the statement struck me at a particular time in my life, giving me words for a gut feeling that’s been growing in me for years. Being a martyr, enslaving yourself to your job, your family, your friends – it’s not honorable.
Are You Being a Doormat?
You’ve heard these things… you’ve said these things… heck, I know I have:
“I’ve been working 60 hour weeks at work. Everyone else works normal hours, but I work more, I work harder – and nobody appreciates it”
“I slaved over this 4 course, gourmet meal all day. My children hated it and my husband ordered pizza. Can you believe they did that to me?”
“I worked so hard on the craft for my child’s school party. Nobody wanted to do. They wasted my time.”
“I go above and beyond for my friend all the time, I’m always doing things for her that she doesn’t even ask me to do. I needed her the other day, and she couldn’t be bothered. I guess she’s not really my friend.”
These are the statements of doormats. There’s no honor in this. At no point in our lives will some fairy godmother appear to allow us to trade lack of appreciation in for wishes. We are earning nothing by allowing ourselves to feel under appreciated.
We have to realize that we are making ourselves miserable and nobody admires us for it. And we’ve gotta stop.
Cut it Out!
I’m catching myself in these scenarios now and working to try to stop from ending up in them. Before investing blood, sweat and tears, I’m trying to determine the “who” and the “why” behind what I do.
1 – Who are you doing it for?
If it’s “them” – be sure “they” actually want what you’re doing.
Does your company want you working 60 hour weeks? I’m a CEO, I don’t want my employees burning themselves out. if they are working 60 hours a week, I DON’T appreciate it, I wish they wouldn’t do it. If your company doesn’t appreciate the extra work you’re doing – why are you doing it?
Does your family really want a 4 course gourmet meal? Probably not. Why are you putting yourself and them through the ordeal?
Did you ask the kids what they wanted before working so hard on the craft? Are you really surprised that a bunch of children had a different idea of “cool” or “fun” than a mom did? Did you really do it for the kids? Or did you do it because you wanted the other moms to be jealous of you and your Pinterest win?
Does your friend want you to do all of those things for her? I have a number of well-meaning, “helpful” women in my life. Much of the time, I honestly don’t want their help – especially the unsolicited kind. But they still give it, then I’m stuck in this weird position of having to act grateful for the act of service that I didn’t want in the first place – I’m stuck with a new obligation, not an appreciative feeling of being “helped” at all. Are you really helping your friends? Or piling a new obligation on them to show you their appreciation?
Which leads me to question #2…
2 – What do you want out of it?
Listen, if you crave appreciation, that’s fine. I like feeling appreciated too. But, the older I get, the more I realize that killing myself to do things for other people without considering what they might actually appreciate is a lost cause.
So, work those extra hours. But, not for the job you’re doing now. Write your book, start your blog, go back to school – invest in YOU.
Go ahead and cook that 4 course gourmet meal. But, don’t feed it to your kids. Stir them up a pot of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, invite over your friends over and treat them to your amazing dinner. They’ll appreciate eating something that they didn’t have to cook and getting a chance to catch up with other friends.
As you cook that dinner for your friends, or you run an errand for them, or stop by to check on them, or drop off a meal… consider what you want out of it. Is “thank you” enough? Or, are you expecting that they’ll reciprocate with an equal or greater gesture in the future?
If a “thank you” is enough for you, great.
If you’re looking for them to reciprocate, you need to take a deeper look inward. What you’re doing isn’t an act worthy of appreciation. It’s a transaction. You’re making a purchase with your good deed, and your friend may be completely unaware that your intention is to get something back.
Stop What You’re Doing
As parents, there are a ton of thankless chores we do every day. From helping with homework and grocery shopping to getting the kids to the dentist twice a year – we do things for the health and well-being of our families. Sometimes it helps when a kid says “thanks”, but for the most part – we’ve got to accept that these are the things that parents do for their families – no thanks needed.
But, there are plenty of things that you’re doing now for your kids, your families, your hubby, your friends, your employer and everyone else you cross paths with that you can just STOP DOING. Seriously – just stop.
Some of those things – you’ll miss. You’ll realize that you liked it when customers gushed saying they were so impressed that you answered their email in the middle of the night. The boss might not notice, but you don’t care. You weren’t doing it for him anyway. You’ll go back to doing it for you, so you can get the satisfaction out of it.
Some of those things – your family and friends will miss. Think laundry is a thankless job? Stop doing it. I did. My kids who can operate video game controls with 900 buttons, were all thumbs when they had to figure out the three buttons on our washer before they’d have their favorite hoodie to wear to school the next day. They now thank me when I ask them to put away the clean clothes I’ve neatly stacked for them instead of complaining that I’m ruining their lives.
Most of those things – you’ll never go back to. Nobody appreciated them in the first place – nobody will miss them when they’re gone, including you.
You can focus your time and energy on finding out what does matter to the people that truly matter to you (including you!). Instead of complaining that nobody appreciates what you’re doing, you’ll fill your days with acts of love and kindness that will be appreciated.