25 January 2016
It’s that time of year when we are thinking about new goals and higher aspirations for the coming year. There is one fundamental quality, however, that’s often overlooked that’s absolutely critical to success: the willingness to take imperfect action. And this applies both to our personal lives as well as our professional lives. Not trying to be perfect might sound simple at first, but those of you who are juggling busy personal lives (especially with children) and a demanding job will know that it’s much easier said than done.
The inability to ‘let go’, meaning: accepting less than perfect (it doesn’t exist any way!), and delegating, holds us back from truly enjoying the richness of our personal lives and growth opportunities in the workplace. Being able to effectively delegate may be inhibiting your career progression. It also is what distinguishes a good manager from a bad manager and a good leader from a bad leader.
We often make assumptions about what we are responsible for and take on too much because ‘that’s what’s expected’ rather than prioritising and delegating according to what works best for us. At the end of the day, if we are happy in our careers and happy in our home life, we will be the best people we can be. It’s a win-win scenario – doing what suits our own personal situation and makes us happy benefits us and benefits others.
As an example, when I started having children I felt that they were primarily my responsibility, even though my husband never made this assumption. I tried to do it all – manage the kids and progress my demanding corporate career. Luckily, I reached an ah ha! moment before succumbing to exhaustion. I realised that I am not perfect and this isn’t the worthy goal anyway. It was like having a boulder lifted from my shoulders. How did I get over that perfectionist mindset? I realised that I by giving opportunities to others to learn and grow was much more manageable, fulfilling, and interesting than trying to do everything myself. But you really do have to let go. When I travel for work, I never micromanage my husband. He does things his way and although it might not be the way I do things, he is happy and the kids are happy. I am also ruthless in prioritising what is important to me and what gives me energy (which also happens to be the things I enjoy doing).
Probably like you, I thought I could do most everything better than others, but it’s precisely this kind of thinking that gets you STUCK. In today’s workplace this is especially relevant as you have to give others the opportunity to grow and learn in order to provide space for your own personal growth. And when you have a demanding job, it’s crucial that you’re recharging your battery at home by doing the things you like to do. I do this by making sure I delegate the chores I don’t like (house cleaning & paying bills) and keep the ones I do like (I love to cook). I can hear reasons why you can’t do this, but be creative; there is always a solution. My priority at home is spending time with the family. Prioritising people over tasks is usually a good trade off, keeping in mind of course the true deadlines for work.
The great thing about taking imperfect action is that it’s an UPWARD spiral – the more willing you are to grow by doing new thing, stopping old things, and delegating, the more positive impact you can have on others, personally and professionally. You are making room to be that ever important leader at home and at work. You’re able to think strategically and problem solve as you’re battery is fully charged.
As Salvador Dali once said, ” have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it any way”. So get ready for 2016 by making a commitment to start doing certain things while stopping others and ensure that your plate is mostly filled with the things you love to do!
Christine Brown-Quinn is the founder of ‘The Female Capitalist®’. She is an accomplished international speaker and commentator on a range of issues relevant to the success of female professionals, through blogs, articles, radio and TV shows, including the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’. Christine has a degree in Foreign Languages, an MBA in International business and nearly 30 years in the corporate world. In 2010 she decided to embark on a new career sharing practical, hands-on business strategies to fast track the careers of professional women, globally and as a wife and mother of three children, she tackles head-on the myth that a rewarding career and a fulfilling personal life have to be at loggerheads. She is the author of ‘Step Aside Super Woman – Career & Family is for Any Woman’ which is available via Amazon. For more information visit www.christinebrown-quinn.com