I’ve spent the last three weekends doing up my house because it’s going on the rental market.
For tenants I don’t know and have never met, I filled holes, repainted walls and cleaned skirting boards. I fixed the fence. I installed a new boiler. I plastered. I drilled. I nailed.
I did for a stranger what I did not do for myself for the entire time I lived in that property.
And yeah sure, there’s a financial incentive. The minute this property gets rented out the sooner I have an additional revenue stream.
But squatting in decade-old jeans and an ancient hoodie, wiping paint through my hair and snuffling dust out of my nose, I was thinking about the people who would be living there, not the money I would earn.
I was thinking about how nice I wanted the house to be for them.
And I had to laugh.
I would do for the imaginary, don’t-yet-exist people who will be living in this house more than I would do for myself.
How amazing that I would show up with such commitment for someone I don’t yet know and arguably shouldn’t care too much about … but won’t do so for me!
This is a trait I see elsewhere in my business. I serve others really, freaking well. But sometimes, I serve myself last.
I see this too in almost every freelance business I encounter.
And, of course, the thing is, when you always serve yourself last you eventually struggle to serve others at all.
“Put your air mask on first”
“Let people sip from your saucer not drink from your cup”
The knowledge isn’t new. We know this stuff.
It’s the practice of serving yourself first that’s the hard bit.
Over the last few years, I've consciously made an effort to correct this. I pay myself first. I take Fridays off. I’ve started to write each morning. But as I swilled out brushes in pints of white spirit, I knew there was more work to be done.
How about you? Do you put your air mask on first or do you sort the whole world out before getting to you?