Sometimes it’s supposed to be messy

by | Nov 2, 2021

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

My life is a mess right now. 

As the mom of two teenage daughters and a teenage cat with newly unpredictable litter box habits, I deal with messes in my house every day. Those are easy, if not stinky, to clean up.

But it’s not only the physical mess that I’m dealing with. You know how when you clean a really messy closet, you make a bigger mess in the room before it gets better? Well right now, I have a lot of big messes in my life that have spilled out and taken over my thoughts.

I’m dealing with the mess that comes with grief. I’m coming to terms with a world that does not include my mom. And the challenges that come with wanting to make everything better for my dad. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I know it only comes with time. That’s going to be messy for a while.

Our family schedule is a mess. After being home, together—I mean every single moment together—for 18 months, my girls are finally back to in-person school. Their activities have started again and the mom taxi service is running overtime. We’re still figuring out our new routines and finding time to spend time together outside of the minivan. I’m counting down the days until Josie can take her drivers’ test—though I know that has the potential to create its own new messes. 😊

And maybe because of my mom’s passing, the unpredictability of COVID-19, and watching my girls grow up sooo fast right before my eyes, I’m taking stock of my own life and priorities. Just like cleaning out the closest, shifting how I spend my time feels messy. And it can lead to some messy conversations.

Let me give you an example.

As a business owner, it’s important to me to approve anything that goes out with my name on it. This can create bottlenecks at times and—especially at busy times when I’m consciously choosing to spend more time with my girls—this can cause frustration for my team and guilt for me. (I hate feeling like I’m holding people up, and the piles were further exasperated by the fact that I had spent many hours by my mom’s side in her final months.) We had reached a point where things were falling through the cracks, and we needed to have a conversation.

We talk about having Balanced conversations all the time. (Here’s a link. Here’s another. Here’s one more. You could also say I wrote a book about it.) So this should be clean and simple for Team DLCC, right?

Moment of truth… It’s not!

Is your workplace a hybrid of virtual and in-person? That sounds messy.
Here are some tips to make it more manageable…


Jill Mueller:
One of the things that I love about my job is being able to hear from different leaders and different organizations in all different types of industries. And I remember a year and a half ago, a little bit more now it seems than a year and a half ago, when the pandemic first started, was how quickly people switched to virtual workspaces. And how there was both trying to figure it out, trying to figure out what it was like working from home, trying just to even get a printer or a modem with a camera for video conferences. And also the novelty of it, of the virtual happy hours, the virtual meetings that were more social in nature than just all business in nature.

Jill Mueller:
And I remember there being a sense that this was going to be temporary, that this was just something that we had to do kind of with everything COVID related, that was just going to be temporary, a few weeks, maybe a few months, and then things would get back to normal. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I don’t think we’re ever going back to normal, whatever that might have been in the past. And one thing that we’re seeing a lot right now is the emergence of hybrid work environments. I just talked to somebody today about their hybrid work environment that they’re experimenting with. That’s a word that we seem to hear a lot as well. That people are experimenting with hybrid work environments, with whether it’s some people are all virtual and some people are in the office all the time. Everybody has a combination of working from home, working in the office or anything in between.

Jill Mueller:
There is a lot of hybrid going on right now within the workplace. And so we wanted to take some time today to explore three thoughtless things that people do in hybrid workplaces. And let me be clear. None of these things are necessarily things that people wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, I’m going to be thoughtless today in my workplace.” Very rarely do people wake up with that sentiment, if at all. But nonetheless things can happen that feel thoughtless. And when we’re looking at this idea of thoughtless, it can be thoughtless with others that the actions that you are taking are thoughtless with others. You might often notice, oftentimes it’s easier to notice with other people when they’re being thoughtless with you.

Jill Mueller:
So this idea of being thoughtless with others, I think is one that we talk about often. But I will also want to emphasize the actions that we take that can be thoughtless with yourself. That because maybe it is because you’re thinking so much of others, you’re not then thinking about what it is that you need. And so, let’s dive in. What are the three thoughtless things that people do in hybrid workplaces? First one is multitasking. Okay. I’m guilty of multitasking. I’m multitask all the time. And so multitasking by its nature is not necessarily thoughtless. Though there’s plenty of research that shows that there’s really no such thing as multitasking. Your brain can literally only do one thing at a time.

Jill Mueller:
So the people who say they’re good multitaskers are likely good task switchers. Because they can switch from task to task to task. Where this becomes thoughtless though, is when that task switching, when that multitasking has an impact both on the relationship of the person that you are having a conversation with or a meeting with, or when that multitasking is having an impact on your actual work and productivity. So, for example, you are in a meeting. And I mean, sometimes it’s blatantly obvious when people are multitasking. Right? They might not even be looking at the screen. You might be hearing the typing going on on their keyboard. And it’s really quick to realize, okay, they’re multitasking. They’re not listening. And what’s the story that goes through your head?

Jill Mueller:
If you’re noticing you’re multitasking, whether you’re within a meeting or not, recognizing, are you putting the attention that you want to be putting on any one of those tasks? Could you maybe get more work done, be more productive, enjoy that 10 minute Facebook break a little bit more if you focus just on that one task at a time? Again, multitasking by its nature or task switching is not necessarily thoughtless, but if you’re noticing it’s having a negative impact, that’s a good sign that maybe then it’s moving into that thoughtless territory. Okay. Second one. Comparing. Oh boy, do we see this one a lot right now. People are comparing those people who get to work from home. Those people who get to go to the office, how lucky are they that they get to the office?

Jill Mueller:
Those people that, oh gosh, they’ve gotten their commute back. I think about my husband, he’s been going to work every day since the pandemic started. He’s an essential worker, at least in the eyes of his employer. He works in a job where he has to go to work. And so there’s the comparison from somebody who works from home now, primarily, we both make comparisons of who has it easier? Who has it harder? Of course, I’m the one who has it harder. He says that he has it easier because he actually has to get up and go someplace all the time. But just the energy of doing the comparison, whether it’s people in different industries, people within your organization, that comparing can really take a lot of thoughts.

Jill Mueller:
And when it’s taking up that space in your thought capacity, that’s taking away time that you could be thinking about other things. The final thoughtless thing, at least that we’re talking about today. I have no doubt there are other thoughtless things that you’ve seen in hybrid work environments. And by all means add to the comments right now. Other thoughtless things that you see people do or maybe you do yourself in hybrid workplaces. But the third one we’ll talk about here today is assuming. And this one probably, I don’t want to say it’s the most prevalent, but this one happens all the time and it’s not restricted just to hybrid workplaces, but oh, my goodness, is it easy to do in a hybrid workplace?

Jill Mueller:
Somebody has their camera off. And what are all the assumptions that go through your head? You see somebody not looking at the screen, so they must be multitasking. Right? When in fact maybe they’re not looking at their screen only because their camera is here and their screen is over here and they’re watching everybody else. And that’s the only reason that they’re not looking at the screen. We make assumptions all the time that, if somebody really cared maybe they’d be coming into the office more. If somebody really cared about the deadline, they’d be working harder at home. If they’re working from home, they can work anytime they should be able to respond to my emails. We make those assumptions, and then those turn into stories. And those stories, again, can have impacts on our relationships.

Jill Mueller:
And at a time where it is hard enough to get the work done, hard enough to keep our family in one piece, to keep our family safe, to keep ourselves safe and sane, assumptions certainly don’t help. And so this is a perfect time to practice the thoughtfully fit practice of strength. Strength invites us and challenges us to consciously choose in every situation and every moment. It’s not just with other people, you certainly want to consciously choose with other people, but to consciously choose with yourself as well. And how can you choose to be thoughtful with yourself and with other people?

Jill Mueller:
If you’re noticing frustration, if you’re noticing you’re swirling in the multitasking, if you’re noticing you’re constantly comparing and maybe putting yourself down that other people seem to have it so much more together, making assumptions about what other people are doing and what that means about you, this is the time to hit that pause button. Hit that pause button and think about, are you showing up in a way that you want to? Are you giving your thoughts, processing those emotions, spending the valuable time that you have working on things? Focused on the things that you want to be focused on?

Jill Mueller:
So hit that pause button and think, what choices do I have right now? Is it helpful to be comparing myself to others right now or not? Is it helpful to be switching between all these tasks right now or not? Maybe you’ll find that it is. Maybe you’ll find, okay, this is what’s required of me right now. This is what needs to happen. Maybe this is the time where you can check out some of those assumptions and have that conversation as opposed to assuming, “Oh, well, somebody didn’t get back to me. That must mean that they’re not working.” Or “Somebody didn’t get back to me. So that must mean that am not important in what I need. They don’t find me important.”

Jill Mueller:
Recognize what choices you have and then consciously choose how you want to act. Act the way in the way that you want to. So regardless of what you’re dealing with right now, I’m with you in terms of, it’s hard right now to not be thoughtless. Not because you want to be thoughtless, sometimes it just feels like things are difficult right now. And so no need to beat yourself up. This is the chance to practice strength. And to think about, what do you want to consciously choose instead? Let me also say, if you haven’t already, there is this great quiz.

Jill Mueller:
If you haven’t taken it already, go to You’re going to learn more about Darcy’s book there as well, but you’re also going to learn, what’s the hurdle that gets in your way. Is it strength? Is it how you’re showing up and consciously choosing? Or is it one of the other of the total six thoughtfully fit practices out there? So if you haven’t already, go to, take that quiz and learn more about Darcy’s fantastic book as well while you’re there. Thank you so much for joining me for Thoughtfully Fit Thursday. We will see you next time.

Admittedly, it is easier to have these conversations because we have designed our team alliance. It’s easier because we lean into courage, compassion, and curiosity. And we can name any team toxins if they sneak in. All that said, important conversations where we’re trying to find a win-win solution are messy! In fact, that’s usually a good sign we’re on the right track.

In our conversation, I had the courage to say that I was overwhelmed and falling further behind by the day and was feeling bad about it. My team had the compassion to not make me feel worse and the curiosity to help me troubleshoot. I also had the courage to say which of their solutions weren’t going to work for me and compassion to listen openly when they stated their frustration with my resistance. At one point, we all fell silent. We were in the middle of the mess. The conversation felt awkward. I wasn’t sure if my team’s silence was stonewalling or meaningful reflection.

So I decided to be vulnerable and share what I was thinking. I said, “This feels hard. I’m curious if you’re thinking, frustrated, or something else?”

That broke the ice. Turns out it was a little of both. I wish I could say we figured out a long-term solution, but we did arrive at a short-term solution to help release the pressure on all of us. And we committed to tackling the long-term once we feel more stabilized and less overwhelmed as a system.

One-Minute Core Workout

Being Thoughtfully Fit doesn’t mean that every conversation comes easy. They’re bound to feel messy, because life is messy. When you engage your core and choose to practice Balance, it’s easier to embrace the mess and get through to the other side. 

So here’s your workout for the week:

Pause. Conversations are bound to feel messy. When you notice the mess, hit the Pause button.

Think. What’s feeling messy? What do you ultimately want from the conversation you’re having?

Act. Have the courage, compassion, and curiosity to continue the conversation. Don’t run away from or ignore the mess.

Thoughtfully Fit One-Minute Workout inside the Thoughtfully Fit Wheel

I know I’m not the only one dealing with a messy life right now. For those of you dealing with your own mess, I’m right there with you.

Like your overflowing closet, it might still get messier, but it’s helpful to know that I’m not the only one. And you aren’t either.


Don’t feel like you connect well with others in conversations? Thoughtfully Fit Coach Sharon Barbour recommends Judith Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Utilizing neuroscience research from around the globe, Glaser shares tips on how we can navigate conversations with greater confidence by learning from our past conversational faux pas and establishing a foundation of trust in our relationships.