Are you crippling your team because of being a high-achiever?
As I continue on my pre-new-years rant about doing less in 2013 (instead of trying to do more), I want to share an interesting idea with you. I was reading Success magazine recently that discussed how high achievers often cripple their team mates because of their desire to do it best, do it fastest, and do it themselves. How many times have you just assumed responsibility for a project because you couldn’t be bothered waiting around for someone to get it done in the time that you know you could have it done in? Doesn’t it always seem easier just to do a project right the first time instead of having someone else do it and then going back to clean up their mistakes? I’m with ya!
I believe that high-achievers are so susceptible to burn-out because we hate to let go of control. We think we are the best at producing high quality results and that no one could do as good a job as us. Is that true? Maybe. Is it wise to do everything yourself? No.
In the spirit of the holidays, I’d like to share a light-hearted story with you to illustrate my point. Every year on Christmas morning, my mom, my siblings and our spouses + kids (18 of us in all) get together to have brunch before we open presents. The kitchen is full of bustle as we prepare the feast. Because this has been a tradition for dozens of years we all have our designated job to do: my sister sets the table, my brother preps the drinks etc. Each year my mom is in charge of making the waffles; however, this year she had the flu and was in no shape to cook.
After much debate in the kitchen over what we should do re waffles, my sister decided that she would do it instead. She pulled out the well-worn recipe book and began measuring ingredients with all of us watching nervously as the rookie took over the expert’s annual task. I found myself asking her “don’t you have to mix the egg whites before you pour it on the waffle iron?” My brother added “I don’t think the batter should be that runny…” My mom tried to pop her head in every few minutes to give direction and advice. My sister did her best to stay focused on the monumental job at hand.
Finally breakfast was ready. The result: flat crepe-like waffles (she had mixed the batter too much). The irony? We all like them better than the usual big, crunchy waffles. Every single one of us commented (and not just to be nice) that the texture was better and that somehow they tasted sweeter than the ones my mom made. As I ate my brunch I couldn’t help but ask myself:
“which tasks in my life am I refusing to let go of control because I’m afraid the results will fall flat? (Forgive the pun.) What if (by letting go a bit) things actually turned out better than they would have if I had done them myself? Who on my team isn’t getting a chance to shine because I refuse to loosen my grip on my to-do list?
I think these are three questions we should all ask ourselves every day. As leaders we unconsciously try to do everything ourselves often at the expense of our sanity. What will you let go of this year?