Fast Friday quote of the week: from the battered mid-executive line

Posted July 16, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

At a recent Roundtable for Leaders peer advisory session, we were exploring the topic (some would say myth) of Work/Life Balance.  Our dynamic group of mid-level execs were sharing the challenges of balancing working demands with life demands in the advent of the “instant results/what have you done for me lately” environment we have created.  For our group of high achievers, the pressures of feeling like you’re doing nothing well and perpetually missing all the balls your juggling, led one of the participants to quip:

“Half-assed is the new perfect.”

A comment made tongue in cheek, but one that makes me think of the statement “many a truth is said in jest.”  The reality is that what most of us crave from our jobs is the feeling of satisfaction or pride that we get when we achieve something.  Not getting that feeling because of work load overload is highly demotivating… but I think especially if you’re a high performer who’s used to achieving and winning.

Sadly, with many organizations still in the clutches of last year’s downturn, the organizational chant has been “do more with less” and many leaders today are finding themselves stretched beyond their limits and on the fast track to burn out.  High performers seem to be incredibly susceptible to this because of their drive to win combined with the fact that they’re boss will turn to them to pick up the slack because of their ability to get things done.

But we all have our personal tipping points.  Many of the clients I see and work with are running at a hundred miles an hour.  They find themselves in a constant state of reaction.  As an entrepreneur, I do it myself all the time.  What I’ve learned is that it is crucial for me to step back to reflect on my priorities and get ruthless about focusing.  To do this, I work with coaches and mentors am involved in peer groups that challenge my drive to “do it all” and help me shift my perspective on things.  It’s amazing how things that I cling to as “so important” become less so when you talk it through with a neutral third-party or group of peers.  I’ve learned that if I don’t create that space to think, I start feeling bitter, isolated, exhausted and generally an unhappy camper.  How about you?

As a high performer, you’re probably putting more pressure on yourself than anyone else around you.  We tend to be our own worst critics.  So, take a breath.  Slow down, ask for what you need, get clear on what you will/won’t accept and negotiate a new reality for you.  High performers get overloaded in our organizations because we can be counted on to deliver.  But don’t keep taking things on at your own expense.  After all, you’re a highly valuable employee!  You may be surprised to find that there are other alternatives to burn out.  But if you don’t ask for what you need, you don’t get.

Happy leading!


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