Everything to Everyone

The Lyric

Spin around fall down, and do it again; yeah you try to be everything to everyone.

The Artist & Song
Everclear – “Everything to Everyone”. (Taste Advisory: ’90s Alt-Rock hit. Serious guitar riffs.)

The Meaning
I could write a lot on this, and I’m sure I could go overboard. So I’ll stick to my vow: brevity.

If you spend all your time trying to be everything to everyone, maybe you’ll end up meaning not enough to, well, just about anyone. I know that’s really a little simplistic – but it’s intended to illustrate the effect of stretching ourselves too thin.

If we keep spinning around, falling down, and get up to do it all again – what happens if we just can’t get back up?

How do our work colleagues manage without us? No one is indispensable at work, of that I am sure. But what is the effect of losing you – either for a while, or maybe on a more regular basis? Losing your productivity; your capacity for the thoughtful approaches people expect of you; your ability to address challenging problems that are costing money, time, competitive edge, market share?

And what about at home? If we spin around, fall down, and can’t get back up to do it all again…who does that place the burden on? Our partner, our caregivers, our kids, our family. Our loved ones. The very things we (over)do because we love them are so often tearing us away from living our life.

How often do we obscure the simple joy of the moment because we are task-focused? To-do list oriented? Trying to just get ‘er done?

The other day I had one of those times, as I was bustling out the door with our youngest son to head to school.

I was preoccupied with a few client project deadlines; I was wondering how we would ferry the kids to their conflicting activities the next day; I was wondering why the City never salts that part of the street; I was wondering why I can never seem to readjust our morning routine to get out the door a few minutes earlier; I was hoping I wouldn’t get wet in the rain…and my five year old jerked my hand, again.  We stopped.

Daddy,” he said. “Look at the patterns that the rain is making on the hill.”

And I knew it then. That was what I was supposed to be doing in that moment. The most impactful thing I could be doing in the world; right then. Being something to someone. Not everything, to everyone.

The Dots
1. What’s one way, today, you can be something important to someone else at your work? At home? In your community? Just pick one. Start small.
2. Name one thing you give yourself permission not to do today. Strike it off your to-do list. See if it’s still as important tomorrow.
3. Take your own cue. The first time today that someone in your life asks you to “come here”, “check this out”, or “mommy/daddy, come see…” – as soon as those words escape your mouth “Just a minute; be right there; give me a minute…” – take that as your cue. Go. Right then. Right there.