The number one thing this affectionately captioned “COVID year” has taught me is to slow down. On the heels of that, is the importance of consistency over intensity. I spent the first 5 years of what is turning out to be a wonderful career being so intense that I periodically shut people out because they were “in my way.” I was consumed with hyper productivity. I touched a little bit on this in a previous blog on boundaries and breaks. Now more than ever I am truly understanding the importance of calmly staying the course, trusting my gut, and doing the next right thing.
Professionally, I am moving away from what was an entry level job, to an advanced, executive level role with additional responsibilities. I am ready to humbly take on this new challenge and figure out how to take these responsibilities to the next level. Old me would be panicking, begrudgingly putting in 60 hour weeks to “prove myself” to effectively nobody. What I learned over the course of this year is that all that extra time wasn’t making my product better, and other areas in my life started to suffer.
My false urgency was due to a lack of confidence as a young leader. I attributed my success to coincidence or luck, not to actual ability. I struggled to internalize and accept my accomplishments, and doubted my deservedness and ability. An article by Forbes defines “imposter syndrome” in exactly these terms. My affliction became so serious that it actually started to have an opposite effect on my performance. It cost me time and energy to actually do the best job, in the interest of doing all the jobs in an effort to perpetuate my value.
What is real to me, is the effect it had on my team. I went from being this effective, involved leader, to being too busy to really connect. It cost me a couple of relationships that I cared about, which had downstream effects for their managers and their attitude toward work altogether. However, when the world shut down, I was able to retreat to those who helped me get to where I am. Fortunately, they were welcoming, and I focused wholly on holding them together, as they do (and had done) for me. This was true in my personal life as well. My husband and children who I love (but put to the side while I was being a big deal), became my only physical interaction. This was a humbling experience for sure.
What I learned is that the people who matter will stick around, both personally and professionally. At work, I am worth far more to them at 100%, and executing consistent, thoughtful productivity, over churning out volume of mediocre work. My colleagues have noticed the change, recognizing the peace I am feeling, which is rewarding for me in trying to be my best self. I am leading in this regard in both spaces, others are taking my lead, looking within, and adjusting their perspectives to live a healthier life all around.
Slowing down hasn’t cost me any success (quite the opposite actually). I am still the bad ass boss babe (so I have heard) that I dreamed I could be. The difference is I am self-aware and secure enough to know my limits (and my worth). As long as I adhere to my values and remain consistent, I can’t go wrong.
What did you learn from the COVID year? Drop me a comment to let me know!