But it’s not just other people we could do with an owner’s manual for. How handy would it be to have one for ourselves?
How much time and trouble do you think that might save?
Can you imagine the difference that might make to our teenage and adult years?
How would it be if, instead of repeating experiences we didn’t enjoy the first time around, we could just flick through the manual, and make informed choices based on having a clear understanding of exactly what would work for us, and what wouldn’t?
Instead, we tend to learn by experience -usually, unhappy experience.
You would think that we would have a clear insight into what goes on in-between our two ears. After all, that’s our intellectual property, so to speak. Yet as often as not, we don’t.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a number of very bright, high-achieving, remarkable women. They have good minds, and make good decisions – in some areas of their lives. They make decidedly less good ones in others.
The main area where they regularly make good – even great – decisions is in their working lives.
They know exactly what works, and why, and they draw on that to ensure that their professional lives are drama and disaster-free.
Yet, when it comes to their personal lives, something very different happens.
Because everything is different.
Now, you could argue that your private, emotional world is very different from the world of work. It’s true enough. On the other hand, it is the same physical being who shows up in both.
The same physical being – albeit possibly differently kitted out in terms of clothes, make-up etc – shows up, but does the same person?
Now, this is where it gets really interesting.
Over the years of working with women, I’ve noticed that it’s NOT the same person who shows up in the different spheres of life.
Sure, you may not want to run your private life the same way as you do your professional life.
However, why would you NOT want to bring the same range of personal skills, and strengths, to both?
I’ve met brilliant professional women with the vision and skills to tackle really taxing problems, and offer precious support to others.
I’m sure you have, too.
These women are gifted, outstanding problem-solvers.
Yet, in their private lives, the problem-solving can end up parked in the wardrobe, on a hanger, next to the business clothes. As if they didn’t need that problem-solving ability in their private lives.
We women have a talent for compartmentalizing that we’re not even aware of.
We can be absolutely brilliant in some areas of our lives, but in others we can be almost unrecognizable…
What that means, in the main, is that we go into our most important relationships – that is our personal relationships – devoid of the adult skills and wisdom we have.
That can be a huge waste.
It’s a bit like driving a geared car, and never getting out of second gear: it’s not great for the car. Nor does it make for an enjoyable ride.
If you’re struggling in one area of your life so that it feels like you’re stuck in second – or first – gear, all is not lost. You just have to discover how to access the rest of the gearbox.
What kind of difference will that make to your life?
It will mean that you can be successful, fulfilled and happy throughout every area of your life. Like Sue, who was absolutely brilliant at dealing with the bad boys in her professional yet, but in her private life she felt so powerless in the face of a bad boy that she just allowed them walk all over her.
Learning to stop compartmentalizing finally put her in charge of her personal life, too. That made her a far happier, more confident person.
If there’s an area of your life where you’re underperforming, you too could have a compartmentalization issue. Compartmentalization issues point to a need for modernization. They’re telling you that it is time to go open plan and create a lot more light and space.