Don’t Live an Unexamined Life

Women in the workplace have all dealt with expectations or tasks that we know will be impossible to achieve or go against our grain, but we do them anyway. Why? What are we hoping will be the reward on the other side of all the long hours, exhaustive work, and drained mental and emotional reservoirs? Melissa Peak shares about “good being the enemy of great,” and why anyone who feels the weight of unfair expectations should seize the opportunity to stop living an unexamined life and seek out God’s true path for their life.

You can listen to this entire conversation with Melissa on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

Women have a diverse pool of expectations placed upon us…and sometimes those expectations are self-inflicted. Why do we do allow these unfair expectations to exist? 

Being in a situation where unfair or unreasonable expectations are piling on top of you is where I would say a self-assessment really needs to start. Sometimes we’re doing things and don’t even know that we’re trying to fulfill an unfair expectation. We’re just doing it. Don’t live an unexamined life. Regularly ask yourself, “What are you trying to do here? What’s the priority?” I had my first job was when I was eight years old, delivering newspapers. I’ve been a producer for a long time. I’m very good at working and doing, and I enjoy that.

However, God has had to remind me I’m not a human doing; I’m a human being. I think we’re always hardest on ourselves, and there are lots of subconscious and conscious expectations that we give ourselves. If this sounds like you, I think you have an opportunity for negotiation. Don’t just put your head down and do, a mistake a lot of us did in our early careers, including myself. I was a first generation college student, so early in my career, I really equated success with output, and the more harder I worked, the more the output. To be honest, that’s how I gained professional momentum in the first 15 years of my career.

But this work ethic becomes limiting. It’s not sustainable; you just can’t continue to do more and more and more. Expectations are a good thing to talk about. What are your expectations of yourself? Where do they come from? Do you actually agree with them, or are you just doing something you were trained to do and you fell into the flow? Regarding expectations with your significant other, what are the expectations be between the two of you—mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually? What are you expecting from each other? Is there an expectation that needs to be reexamined? Before my husband and I had our five kids, we didn’t really need to talk as intentionally about expectations. We didn’t need to talk at all about whose job it was to get the kids ready for school in the morning, get them to school, help at night with homework.

I’ve talked to a lot of women and hear things like, “My husband’s helping me with the kids. My husband’s helping me with the house.” These statements make me a bit crazy because it’s not only your house, they’re not only your kids. From a women in business perspective, there’s some really unhealthy dialogue that has made women feel like if they aren’t doing certain things, or look a certain way, or if their family doesn’t look a certain way, then they’re not relevant, not valued in this society. 

Jesus is a great example of handling others’ expectations. He did not allow other people’s expectations to be His guide. He said, “I only do what My Father tells me to do.” So who are you? What has God called you to do? Whatever your answer is, don’t allow anything else to get piled onto your plate. This means getting really good at saying no. To understand why you’re saying no, you must have a very clear vision of what is great.

Good is the enemy of great. There are a lot of good things we could be doing. However, if we are diminishing our impact by trying to do all the good things, we get to great in maybe one area but not in the areas that are important to us. If this is how you feel, this should be a red flag. If something is a priority to you, you’re going to make it happen. Don’t do something because “you should;” that means you’re following somebody else’s mindset for your life. 

The final thing I’ll say is this: Jesus leads us; Satan drives us. Jesus said, “I’ve come, that they may have life and have it to the full.” When we are being led by God, even though we might be highly active and a lot of things might be happening, we have peace. When we’re allowing ourselves to be driven by our own pride or by our own sense of who we should be, that is when we feel anxiety and frustration. We will feel disoriented because we are not grounded by the leadership that comes from the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Personally, I do not have this figured out. But after a long day, when I’m winding down and feel anxious or emotional turmoil, that’s a good indicator for me to just check and ask, “Okay, how did this day go? What did I do throughout this day that brought me this anxiety or that left me with this emotion?” Many times, I feel that way because I’ve gotten caught up with internal thinking that’s not serving me, like, “That person probably thought really badly of me in that meeting,” or, “I can’t believe I went in there and failed,” or “My kids are going to fail in life because I missed that homework assignment.” We create internal catastrophes, which aren’t real, and those are great moments to just check ourselves and realize those thoughts aren’t the Holy Spirit. If you’re feeling those thoughts or emotions, just pause and unload, because you don’t need to take drama with you into the next day. 

Melissa Peak, is a seasoned management executive with more than 2 decades of experience leading organizations to growth and customer success, while building an engaged workforce. Leveraging her transformational leadership style, Melissa has repeatedly built thriving teams that deliver unprecedented market penetration, customer satisfaction, and revenue results. Career highlights include delivering double-digit, top-line revenue growth; placing a Fortune 500 company on the Federal GSA Schedule; 40% of direct reports promoted into expanded roles; creation and execution of a strategic digital marketing campaign resulting in a 400% increase in social media engagement after one year.

Melissa has led business operations with teams exceeding 200 people, and managed P&L responsibility exceeding $150MM. Over her career, Melissa has engaged with hundreds of employers as a trusted advisor on key talent strategies. By delivering powerful results for these employers, Melissa has built strong relationships with a large network of CEO, CIO, CTO, COO, CHRO, Diversity and Learning Colleagues across North America, with International impact.

As a first-generation college student, Melissa is a determined advocate for those who are taking a “road less traveled.” Whether it is hosting a conference, roundtable, one on one coaching or serving as a connector for the determine, yet un-equipped, Melissa has opened doors of opportunity for thousands of individuals. Melissa is proud to have been named a “2020 Top Woman to Watch” by Diversity Journal Magazine. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Women Business Collaborative, and an Advisory Board member for Working Nation.

Melissa resides in Goshen, KY with her husband Michael and their five children. She earned her Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan’s School of Business, an MBA from the John Sperling School of Business at University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Science in Literature from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Be part of a global organization to impact 10 million women to integrate their faith at home and at work. 4word is a global organization with expansive networks connecting women every day. Join us and be part of the journey. To learn more about Journey 4word, click here!