How Maral Kazanjian Practices Prioritization as Self-care

The Chief People Officer learned that she can better serve others when she puts herself first.

Like lots of other people, focus and prioritization is a huge challenge for me. I am constantly multitasking and trying to remind myself to “be present.” One Microstep that I have recently tried to undertake is to simply say to myself (sometimes out loud) before a meeting or event “be present.” When my mind wanders during a meeting or I look at my phone, I physically turn the phone upside down and repeat “be present.” That ties into my other Microstep, which is to create small rituals with the people that matter. For me, that means creating sacrosanct T.V. or reading time with my kids, or scheduling a phone call with a friend. I tell everyone that this specific time is my time to be with that person and I do not compromise unless absolutely necessary.

The “be present” Microstep was actually the result of people (including my husband) telling me that they felt I was distracted in meetings or conversations and, I realized, what I was being told was that I was not respecting them. And given that these are people I care deeply about, I knew I had to make a change.

As far as creating rituals, that was the result of growing and realizing that the most precious commodity I have is time. I am a working mother and have the incredible fortune of working beside and leading a team of amazing talents and even better humans. My family and colleagues deserve nothing less than my undivided time and attention when I am with them. Given all of my competing demands, I felt it was necessary to set specific inviolate time. The biggest payoff has been with my kids. My girls know there are specific times that are “our time” (most recently watching “The Voice”), and the girls know I will be there and they will be my sole focus. My daughter even told her teacher that she knows she is special to me because no matter what I am home for “The Voice” each week. While I am sad that it’s such a small thing, I am happy that it reminds my daughter that she is special to me, because she is.

As mentioned, I have the great fortune of working with an incredibly talented team of extraordinary people. We have a strong circle of trust (even though some of the team are oceans away) because we agreed at the outset of our relationship to put the team first. We reinforce that contract in how we work every day. We communicate transparently and we show so much care for one another’s success. This group spends a lot of time together and through that time that we motivate and drive one another’s success.  

Life can be hectic, and more responsibilities will always come your way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help prioritizing activities or carving time out to recharge, and do not go it alone. Earlier in my career, I thought I had to get to the answers on my own and do everything for everyone without leaving anything space for myself. Now I believe that collaboration and prioritization are means of self-care and team care. When I better understand the priorities, I can more effectively serve the team and the organization.  

Joy is so powerful, and for me sometimes it’s just three minutes of sun on my face, a genuine hug, or an awe-inspiring sunrise. Sometimes it’s a conversation that brings me out of my head, or a great workout. And sometimes it is a work product that I know will have a positive impact.

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