Out of Bounds

May 10, 2022

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Even though March Madness has ended, I still have basketball on my mind. Perhaps that is because I missed a lot of the games this year, due to my own March Madness! Specifically, a busy work season, for which I am certainly grateful.

More likely, it is because over the last few months I have received quite a few questions about boundaries. It seems boundaries are getting busted far more often of late. So what's going on? Why so much out of bounds happening? Perhaps it is because people need a new In-bounds play? Maybe.


Why maybe? Mainly because people know what a boundary is. We all know the definition. A boundary is a line, a limit or an edge. And we are living within boundaries every single day. When we eat, sleep, dress, drive, obey the laws (or not). Yes boundaries are part of our everyday life. It is a simple concept, but not always simple in execution. And it seems the obvious boundaries are not the ones folks are struggling with lately, but more of the transparent boundaries. Those boundaries that you don't even know you have. And/or don't even know they were broken, until, well, they are broken!

At the same time, many are dealing with major change again, especially as offices are beginning to open up and employees head into their new "hybrid" working conditions. And with change comes uncertainty and also the opportunity to break (and create!) boundaries.

If you are looking to address boundaries that have been broken, and/or create new ones, here are three things for you to consider:

First, congratulations! Congratulate yourself. Congratulations for now seeing what used to be unseen. Acknowledging a broken boundary helps to put it in clear view, and provides the opportunity to adjust. It is difficult to change something we are not conscious of. As a dear mentor, often reminds me: first conscious - then we can challenge - and eventually change.

Second, I would recommend to go back to the basics of setting boundaries. Especially if you have new boundaries to set. There are many resources and books available on this topic. One book that I am currently reading by Patti Henry has a chapter devoted to boundaries, and includes 7 very practical steps.

Third, and most importantly, try looking at trends or themes. Do you typically have a certain area of your life where boundaries are more often broken? Do you keep great boundaries at home, but can't say no at work? Are you strong at setting boundaries with your boss but not your spouse? The issue may be a flawed boundary. Or it could be tied to self-esteem. Or perhaps simple fatigue. A few questions to ask that may help you better understand are: what is the boundary that has been broken? why do I allow this boundary to be broken? Is it chronic?

Whatever it may be for you, my hope is that you won't beat yourself up. Instead, I hope you learn. Give yourself some grace. And when you fail, learn again. And do better next time! If you need more information or help in this area, please reach out, we are here to help.

"In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow." - Dr. Henry Cloud

Kate Johnson
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