Take Back Your Week

A Security Catalyst Guide for Directed Action

I'm tired of seeing people end a crushing week with the gut-wrenching feeling of defeat. For many, it's turned into a vicious cycle that leaves us weary. Worse, left unchecked, this cycle disconnects us from our value.

And when we can't see our value, no one else sees it, either.  It doesn't have to be this way. 

This guide is forged from experience. Mine and those I am fortunate to work with. Based on a series of recent discussions, I decided to share the outline and work collaboratively to build the guide one section, one week at a time.

Then we'll work on the challenges together. Taking directed action in pursuit of value. 

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What does Friday feel like for you?

And he told me it's because in my contract there's a clause

That says "It's my job to be worried half to death

And that's the thing people respect in me

It's a job but without it I'd be less

Than what I expect from me"

Jimmy Buffett

"It's my Job"

You put in a long week and instead of looking forward to the weekend, you feel numb.

The pit in your stomach grows.

You’re looking at a calendar filled with meetings and an email inbox overflowing with messages you don’t have time to read, let alone process.

The list of work you need to get done is longer than when the week started. 

You feel defeated

As your exhaustion sets in, you wonder if it’s even worth it anymore. You routinely question your own skills: 

  • Am I any good at this? 
  • Is there just too much? 
  • Maybe I need to find a different career.  

If you feel this way, how is your team doing? 

But you can handle it, right?

Given a chance to step back, it’s clear that you can handle nearly any of the things thrown at you. 

All of them -- at once -- is when it starts to break down. When you start to break down. And instead of getting a break, the pace grows faster and faster. 

Without any time to breathe, let alone think, the only way to keep up -- or try to keep up -- is to work nights and weekends. 

Often we feel pressure to put in time to get the work done. We rationalize it for our own good, succumbing to the myth that without sacrificing our nights and weekends we’ll only fall further behind. 

It’s a seductive proposition. But it’s not true. 

When does it end?

While it might seem reasonable, at first, to put in a little extra time, when does it end? 

Before you know it, your days blend into each other, Friday is filled with defeat instead of celebration, and you dread Monday (really, Sunday night) before the weekend even starts. 

What does that mean for you, your team, and your friends & family?  

Make no mistake: this is not healthy, appropriate, or necessary. 

This is not “just how it is.” It’s the sign of a problem. 

Understanding the problem is the first step

The situation is complex. Symptoms mask problems. And our sense of defeat leads to a resignation that this is the way. 

It leads to a lot of advice focused on alleviating the symptoms. 

In reality, it’s more powerful to not feel defeated on Friday than to simply feel good. There are a lot of ways - healthy and otherwise - to simply feel good. As we’ll explore, we have an innate need to produce and contribute value. It’s entirely possible to end the week feeling good on Friday without seeing or delivering any recognized business value. 

As John Dewey once explained, “A problem well-stated is a problem half solved.” 

The way to end the constant feeling of defeat starts by gaining a more complete, more accurate picture of the problem. Armed with fresh insights and language to describe our problem more accurately works to improve our understanding of what is possible, too. 

As we see why this happens, we learn what to look for. In turn, that reveals possible pathways. And while each journey is a bit different, some common themes emerge that help us all. 

What’s really happening to us?

Complexity, chaos, and a series of escalating pressures knock us around at work. We know how to solve problems. We know how to lead our teams. But with so much happening so fast, we feel lost. If we could just get a little time to focus and execute, we know we could get things to work. 

Instead, we work our nights and weekends. We take the calls, attend the meetings, and respond to the emails we can. Like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, we know this is the time. We can make it work. 

And, like Charlie Brown, the ball is pulled away at the last second, leaving us with that feeling of defeat again. 

If the feeling of defeat is the symptom, what is the problem? 

The problem is we get disconnected from our value. A little each week. Often so subtle we don’t notice until we’re firmly detached. 

We end up disconnected from our story. 

The characters, conflicts, and resolutions that define us. Our story is our value. 

I firmly believe that each of our stories deserves to be told and is worth listening to and learning from. 

We might not realize we are disconnected from our story, but we feel the frustration grow inside of us. 

What happens when we don’t see our value?

When disconnected from our story, we struggle to see our own value. In turn, it makes it hard for us to see the value in others. And in a cruel twist, when we fail to recognize our own value, no one else sees it either. 

To me, there is no greater tragedy than getting disconnected from our stories. Not only are they the record of our past, they hold the promise of our future. 

You are capable of more than you realize. We all are. 

But when we struggle to see our value, we waste our potential. 

What happens when you recognize your own value?

When you see your own value, my hope is that you’re inspired to reach your untapped potential. In the process, you write your own story and create a legacy you are proud to share, a story we want to hear and celebrate with you. 

When you see your own value, other people see it, too. And you more readily see the value in others. 

What we can do when we unite in our value is truly remarkable. 

What can you do about it?

Chaos, friction and resistance are powerful forces. When we get knocked around often and hard enough, we lose command of our time. We lose our week. And in the process, we lose ourselves and fail to reach our potential. We’re told this is how it is. 

It’s not true. This is not how work or life is supposed to be. 

You are free to decide if this is how you want to live or not. You have the power to change. Even in the current environment. Not a doubt in my mind you are capable.

Change happens when the discomfort of change is more appealing than the pain of the current situation.

The antidote to feeling defeated on Friday is to take back your week. 

A bad week or a downward spiral?

Of course, we all have bad days. Sometimes we have bad weeks, months, or quarters. I’m tempted to suggest that some years are downright rotten, too. But I don’t believe it. We can always find value if we know where to look and take directed action. 

There is a difference between a few bad days or a few bad weeks and knowing when all the weeks are bad. The difference between a rough patch and a downward spiral that brings us down -- and impacts everyone around us. 

As we work through this guide, realizing you might be caught in a bad cycle or leading to a downward spiral is important. That means you can explore why this isn’t sustainable. You’ll better understand the consequences.

And when you’re ready, you’ll take directed action. 

You are free to choose 

What and how long it takes to break the cycle is different for each of us. It’s up to you to do the work. 

But know that you are not alone. 

Use this guide to shape your efforts. Hopefully the concepts here are simple. They feel familiar. And while they might not be easy (when is anything ever easy?), you might be surprised that the change you seek doesn’t impose a heavy mental burden.

No one has time to learn a brand new way of doing things. Instead, the goal is to offer insights and reframe what you already know. To help you see the situation -- and your value -- differently. To guide incremental progress. 

We’re in this together. Rely on me and our community for the energy and inspiration to keep going. 

Taking back your week leads to more

I want more for you than to merely survive without a dreaded feeling of defeat. I opened with the realization from “It’s My Job,” and it’s worth noting how it ends. 

“It's my job to be better than the best and that makes the day for me”

I want you to see your value. I want your team and colleagues to see it, too. I want you to see their value.

I want the process you build to take back your week to lead to more. To build the foundation for you to thrive. And I can’t wait to celebrate with you. 

Why this keeps happening

Outlined & drafted (12/16/2020)

Exploration of why this keeps happening by exposing common -- but sometimes hidden -- challenges. The goal is to share insights and language to better describe their situation. 

We need to see what is happening so we can decide to act. 

If we don’t change, where does this lead?

Outlined & drafted (12/16/2020)

If we don’t change, where does this lead? It has a disastrous impact at work for you and your team. But it also carries a darker side for your personal life, health and fitness, too.

The better tomorrow we all deserve

Outlined & drafted (12/16/2020)

This is aspirational. This is exciting. This is what is possible! 

It’s less about what we deserve (but we all deserve it), and more about what you can achieve when you take your week back-- good things for you, your team, and your organization.

Three essential ingredients for a good week

Outlined  (12/16/2020)

These ingredients are key for a good week, necessary for a leader to provide to their team, and useful when working with others. This section becomes a centerpiece of much of our work because it places focus on what we need as humans in this crazy world. 

This is essential for a good week, a good life, and more.

Neil Armstrong

”I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.” 

The three steps to take back your week

Outlined  (12/16/2020)

This is what you came for -- the three steps to take back your week. Simple, not easy. It lays out what steps to follow if you want to take back your week. 

Your Best Next Step: Break the Cycle

Outlined (12/16/2020)

This is how your journey starts.

Armed with insights, this is how we work together to build momentum and break the cycle. 

You are not alone - more help and resources

Join Office Hours

01

Get a weekly dose of energy and bring your problems to Office Hours with Michael Santarcangelo. 

Challenge Yourself

02

Take directed action in pursuit of value to take your week back. Work through the challenges at your own pace

Get More Insights

03

Check out the Straight Talk Framework, podcasts, and latest ideas and insights on the blog. 


Challenge Yourself (coming in 2021)

Turn what you read into directed action in pursuit of value with three challenges:  

  • Break the Cycle
  • Detach
  • Recharge

Simple is not always easy. Work through the challenges at your own pace, learn about yourself, and take back your week. 

Challenges Coming Soon

Once the guide is finished, we'll work through the challenges, starting with a 5-day challenge to break the cycle

(If you want to help work through the challenges, join us in office hours and let me know)