To DO or To BE

“Whatcha doin’ ?” is embedded deep inside of me. I know this because it comes out of my mouth a lot as I walk through the house or the back yard. Often, it’s directed at one of the four dogs. Like they are going to answer me. :-) Occasionally, I really do want to know because they are into something. More often than not, it’s a question I use as a greeting instead of “Hi”, “Nice to see ya” or “How’s it going?”. Curious.

Every once in a while, I ask myself, “What are you doing?”. Sometimes, I feel a cringe in my body that comes with the thought that I might have been caught ‘goofing off’ or not doing something someone wanted me to do. While I do not have a clear memory of it, I feel sure it’s something I heard often growing up.

I learned how to DO as a small child. It was a decision I made because I got rewarded for it and/or suffered the consequences if I didn’t get things done. What I didn’t understand as a child was that my value and self worth became attached to my ability to DO. I worked hard to be good at it. What does someone need? No problem. I can DO that…and sometimes people didn’t even have to ask. I learned how to anticipate and recognize what other people liked and took care of it for them. It served me well in school and the corporate world. I was an overachiever…I was a workaholic. If my boss and peers were happy, I was happy….er no…wait. I was relieved. And there was always, always more to DO…and no rest for the weary. The more I was able to DO, the more people gave me to DO because I proved that I was really good at DOing.

At the ripe old age of 48, I found myself exhausted and exasperated at the DOing-ness of my life and longing for something different. Propelled by a desire for change, I hired a life coach who helped me realize what was missing. What I was missing. Balance was one great awareness. Me BEing me was the other. 

In 2009, I attended a Circle Facilitation Training class taught by Tracy Roberts at The Circle Center in Nashville. Circle gave me an awareness and experience of BEing with people in a different way. It was 180 degrees different from any meeting or workshop I had ever attended in the corporate world. I sat in a circle with 19 other people…and the most amazing thing happened. I practiced the fine art of listening…just listening, no need (or chance) to DO anything. I simply reflected on what others were saying and had the opportunity to voice my perspective on shared topics and questions. I got to witness as the process of circle created a safe space for us to practice a healthy, respect filled way to BE in relationship with each other.

When we invest the time to learn how to BE with ourselves and each other, the DOing becomes more meaningful. Easier.

I know it’s true for me. When I’m working or playing with someone I know, it takes less effort. I’m more open and available. We have a connection, a deeper understanding of each other. When it comes time to address an issue or take on a major task, there is already trust between us. We know each other and what we value. We find common ground and a mutually satisfying solution faster.

What would happen if we spent a little more time BEing and a little less time DOing?

Here’s a personal challenge.

Next time you sit down with your todo list, scratch out ToDO and replace it with ToBE. What goes on your list now?



  1. Terry (Evans) Poff says

    Kim, how providential to read your post at this point in my life. AND to find you again after all these years!! Your journey sounds a lot like mine….and I’d love to compare traveling notes. If it seems appropriate, drop me a line and let’s get together and catch up. :-)

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