“Amy has pneumonia.” What!? My invincible sister-in-law, Amy, had pneumonia? I couldn’t believe it! I’d just seen her two days before and she seemed just fine. What happened was she’d finally tipped the scales from chronically doing too much to REALLY doing too much with no break.
Amy is the owner of a very successful preschool daycare program, and a dedicated wife and mother who almost always puts everyone’s needs before her own. Recently she’d not only been running her daycare, which requires anywhere from 60-80 hours of her time per week, and taking care of her home, family, and personal business, but within the last few months she’d developed plans to double the size of her daycare, gotten a loan, and searched out and worked with an architect and a contractor to renovate the space that would make expansion possible. That expansion also required that she and her husband move to a new home. She found a home, purchased it, and moved in. Because Amy has the organizer gene in her family, she also coordinated the move, did much of the moving of smaller items into the home, and did most of the unpacking and setting up the new house. Is it any wonder that Amy crashed?
Amy is a woman with high drive. There is no doubt about it. When I’d asked her how she’d been able to get so much accomplished in such a short period of time during our visit the weekend before she was diagnosed with pneumonia, she said, “I just keep going.” Her automatic response when there is a lot on her plate is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, making the next decision, taking the next action. And, she gets a lot done. But at what price?
When I spoke with her while she was recovering from pneumonia, and remarked that she’d seemed fine when I saw her, her response was, “I just kept feeling like something was off. And, I started feeling worse and worse, but I had no idea I was so sick.” Even then, she kept going. It wasn’t until her daughter said, “Mom, we’re going to the urgent care center,” that Amy had a clue that something was really wrong. Her drive to get things done, to do the responsible thing, had blocked her awareness that her body was sick and needed attention.
High drive is the trait associated with people who are successful in business and life, and is revered in our culture. But, as Amy’s story relays, it’s demands can block healthy awareness of your physical limits. It took something as serious as pneumonia to make Amy aware that she had to stop and realize what her drive was costing her.
If you recognize yourself in Amy’s story, which unfortunately I do, it’s time to pause and take stock of what your drive is costing you. Is it affecting your health, your mood, your relationships? Perhaps it’s time to take back control from the tyrant of high drive so you can not only avoid a nose dive into illness, but make space for more peaceful moments and pleasure in your life.