#44 Wrap Up – Bossing yourself around, regressing as a ‘laowai’, and carving out time for relationships
This week was definitely record breaking in terms of numbers (and we made Shanghai Daily Secret’s list!) but more importantly, I learned some invaluable lessons on the power of prioritizing people amidst the insanity of life and business building in China. Tune in to hear my favorite ‘laowai’ moment and why I made people matter first this week.
This week’s stats and updates
6700+ downloads from 152 regions in 46 nations around the world (up 1300+ downloads, 60 regions and 7 countries from last week) Pretty exciting stuff to see the reach continuing to extend around the world. This week, we also basically doubled the previous record for daily website hits from 400 to over 800 in one day with the launch of Tom Mitchell’s repatriation interview. It has been unreal to see the meaningful, heart-felt, honest dialogue sparked by his episode on ShanghaiMamas and expat Facebook pages and it I had one of the moments this week when I knew deep in my gut that lives have truly already been impacted by the project. Overall it was a pretty awesome week.
Challenges and triumphs of being my own boss
This week, I was super behind cutting and getting all of my episodes online. I found myself burning the midnight oil way too many nights just to get the next day’s episode ready to launch. It’s a super stressful way to live and run a business so next week, I’m going to attempt to be at least a day, if not two ahead of schedule. Ideally, I’d be working weeks ahead of schedule, but I’m just not there yet. What were the best things about being my own boss this week? I had two great, extended lunches, one with a very new friend and one with a very old friend. Both were uplifting and motivating and got me out of the house and away from my computer screen, which is also a huge plus. One sparked loads of insightful and exciting business ideas, and the other charged my soul with positivity and broadened my perspective to see the adventure and possibilities outside of my little world.
My girls benefited from mommy being her own boss this week as well. I took them out of school one day and ventured to the aquarium with another old friend and we had a blast. I wish I had a kuai for every time one of them squealed or squeaked over some amazing sea creature they saw for the first time. I sent a photo of the girls sitting on massive, fake penguins to Ron and I could feel his sadness and disappointment that he couldn’t be there with us to experience the aquarium through the wide eyes of our girls. I was quickly reminded how much of a blessing and rarity it is to have the freedom to come and go as I please, while building a business that’s benefiting people all over the world. It was a very humbling and motivating moment to say the least. One valuable lesson I learned this week as my own boss is that I can choose to be as social as I want, or need to be; it just means that I may as well schedule a late night into my calendar at the same time so I make sure my work gets done. Most of us are really good at bossing ourselves around to work harder for sure. But make sure you get bossy about rest, relaxation, and refreshment as well.
Regressing as a ‘laowai’
I very often forget what it’s like to be a true , trying-to-adjust-to-life laowai. It’s been so long in China and it’s so much my home that I honestly don’t remember how much I detested my first 2 or 3 years here. When I think about it thought, the sights, sounds, smells and culture was horrendously difficult for me to adjust to and I’m sure many of you can relate. How and why China became my home and when my relationship with this nation switched from hate to love, I truly don’t know. If I did and I could bottle it, I’d be a rich, rich woman by now. So since launching Limitless I’ve had a couple of moments when I’m pretty sure I’m being reminded how crappy it can be to adjust just so I can get back into the shoes of those struggling. One happened last week. I went to the bank to deposit money into my account. I put the card in, entered all the right things, but the button for ‘Deposit’ didn’t appear. I called a girl over to help. She did exactly what I did and the button still didn’t appear, so they sent me outside to another ATM. Same thing happened out there.
So I went back into the bank and stopped to tell the guy that stands at the door and pushes the right button for you that outside didn’t work either. He took my card and scoffed. I had pulled out a card from another bank. After living and working here so long, I have accounts at like 3 banks because each employer uses different banks and each time I’ve moved companies they’ve opened an account for me. So in my haste, I had pulled the wrong card. Fair enough. I started to walk toward the ATM inside the bank again, searching through my wallet for the right card when that guy starts screaming across the bank to all the tellers about the “laowai” and how she tried to use another bank’s card, and no wonder it won’t work, and those laowai, blah blah blah. And I speak Chinese, so there was no misinterpreting his words. And he continued to comment, loudly, across the bank the entire time I was at the ATM. So I’m fuming, I’m positive I had flushed bright red from the toes to the top of my head, and in my head, I’m rehearsing all of the horrendously nasty things I could say to him to make him lose as much face as he was making me lose. And then I realized, that I have to go back to that bank again, quite often actually, and it wasn’t wise or kind to return meanness with more meanness so I gave a polite smile even though my hands were shaking in anger and walked out, leaving his laughs behind me.
Inspired by the words of a Limitless Guest, Victoria Plekenpol, I asked myself if this was a bad experience or a bad China experience. Ya know, a lot of times we blame China for bad things that would just as likely happen in our home countries too. Well, after some thought, I realized that no, this was a bad China experience. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard a teller talk smack about a client to their face, across the bank, in the US. So there you have it, Ms. Limitless has her own miserable China experiences too, even after 10 years and the lesson there is really how you deal with it. I could have flipped, and trust me, I have many a time like today at the aquarium when I said to a girl probably 6-year-old standing next to a no-feeding-the-fish sign, that it wasn’t right to toss pieces of her Chinese cake to the fish in the Africa exhibit. And it made her upset, I got a nasty look from her grandpa, and they walked away and I probably should have bit my tongue, but for some reason I couldn’t let that one go. I just kept thinking how tough to would be to replace the little African fish if for some reason they had a bad reaction to the cake they were devouring and all keeled over. So to bite your tongue, or not to bite your tongue, that is the question. Most of time, I’ve found that considering such massive cultural differences, rebukes don’t have the same effect as they would in my own language and culture and so I’ve pretty much stopped using them, well except about the fish of course.
Carving out some quality time
I alluded to it earlier, how I chose this week to pour intentionally into relationships instead of ticking off all of the boxes on my to-do lists and here’s why. I’ve decided that if the Limitless Project is wildly successful one day yet in the process, I lose my friends because I forget about them, or end up neglecting the valuable minutes and hours that I’ve been given to shape my young girls, or look at Ron in a year and realize that we’ve grown far apart, would it be worth it? The answer is, of course not. Nothing is worth neglecting the relationships and the people around us. Nothing will ever give us that time back. Nothing will ever be more important to us than those we love and if something is standing in the way of us being able to pour generously into those relationships, it’s up to us to find a way to get around that roadblock and carve out the time. To be honest, it was a little scary this week to block out so many hours for people. I was certain I wouldn’t get everything I needed to done, but lo and behold, some how we’re at the end of the week, 5 podcasts launch as usual, and yet this week, my girls, my friends and my husband feel loved, appreciated and prioritized. My encouragement to you is to look at your week ahead, choose a relationship or two that needs some love, and make it happen, with intention and purpose.