Four Easy Excuses That Will Drive Leaders Over The EdgeShare via
Do any of the following sound familiar to you?
- Fourteen and sixteen-hour days are becoming the norm.
- To-do lists keep getting longer.
- You seem to be covering for everyone.
- You’re not sleeping well, worried about dropping the ball or missing a deadline.
- There are more and more fires burning with your boss, the board, and even your family.
If so, does it mean that you are overworked? Maybe. Or maybe the problem is that you are overWORKING.
The difference between being overworked and overworking is all about excuses and choices.
In our executive communication training and coaching work we come across this situation time and time again. A leader is convinced they are overworked, feeling like a victim of circumstance, and barely keeping their head above water. Without realizing it, they have gotten themselves into a habitual pattern of excuse-making that drags them down.
We’ve discovered four common excuses leaders make that drive them over the edge. If any of these apply to you, here are solutions to take responsibility and take your life back.
Excuse #1: “I don’t have time to teach them.”
The classic trap of failing to delegate because you can do it faster, better, and smarter yourself. Probably true. And, your team feels dis-empowered, reduces their initiative, leaving you to pick up the pieces. The end result is that you are doing other people’s work, justified that it wouldn’t get done without you.
Solution: Instead of thinking, and doing for everyone else, and trying to control every outcome, check your ego at the door, delegate, let go and support others in learning to be capable. The end result will be a team of capable people instead of a strung-out leader with lazy followers.
Excuse #2: “I have to do it perfectly.”
This is the myth of, “I’m only OK if I am perfect.” Many people around you will play off this fear and take advantage of you if you let them. This myth is what keeps many organizations running at a fraction of their capacity. One truth is that you will never be perfect, and that’s OK because your worth as a human being never depended on it in the first place. A second truth is that to achieve that last 5% towards perfection takes exponentially more work than the 95% before it.
Solution: Pursuing excellence is great. Pursuing perfection is extremely inefficient. Knowing when to stop, and discovering how to learn from your mistakes is a much quicker route to top performance.
Excuse #3: “I don’t have time to rest.”
Slam another energy drink. Pop another sleeping pill. Keep going. Until you hit the wall. You are not working smarter, just harder. The wall you hit may be an accident because you are trying to multitask. Most likely it will include you losing control and doing something you regret. For some, it is a heart attack. Your body speaks its mind and it will get louder and louder until you listen.
Solution: Stop. Breathe. Refuel. You are like a high performance machine that can only run at capacity when elegant care is taken to do proactive maintenance. Taking care of you should be top of your to-do list every day. Diet, exercise, non-working time, relaxation. Whatever fills your tank. This isn’t selfish – it’s responsible.
Excuse #4: “I can’t say no.”
Incorrect. You WON’T say no because you don’t want to deal with the conflict and consequences if you do. You choose not to say no for a variety of reasons, and you’ve given others a ton of power over you because you forgot that it was your choice. You’ve done it so many times that you’ve convinced yourself it’s not your choice any more. Saying “can’t” instead of “won’t” is an excuse.
Solution: Recognize and own your choices as well as the consequences of those choices. Saying yes to another task means nothing if you can’t say no when it crosses the line of what’s healthy for you. As crazy as it seems, you will earn more respect when you assert healthy boundaries and focus on doing what you do best.
If you would like to stop overworking and begin taking responsibility for a more healthy life, develop your skills to delegate, avoid perfection, take care of yourself, and say no. Stop making excuses to avoid being a better person and leader.
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