There are two subjects that always bring a flurry of thoughts in my head and this week it has become urgent that I say something about both.
The two subjects are “time management” and “inclusion” and they are more interconnected than what you may think. So bear with me to discover the connection … and hopefully find some useful tips for yourself.
There will be a reward at the end, so keep reading!
As you may have noticed, the title illustration for this month’s newsletter is a composite of screenshots from the launch (last April 14) of our LIS Woman learning and networking initiative. This initiative is the most recent case bringing to the surface some classical misunderstandings about time management and inclusion.
You see, Business Networking is something most businesswomen down-prioritise, while at the same time it is amply demonstrated that it is one of the most important (if not “the” most important) unwritten rule of success. And it is often down-prioritised because of excuses like “not enough time” and “I do not need to network; as long as I do my job well, I will be included, my Company has a great D&I program”
I said excuses. Because, although it is natural to have initial reservations for something new, once you ascertain that you need it and want it, and you still say that you cannot, well, there is usually something deeper hindering the action. And in many cases like this one, the main hindering “something” tends to be the fear of not being enough.
- The instinctive natural and human fear of not being enough is the main fear that often leads us to poor time management decisions: we choose short term actions with immediately visible or tangible results instead of pursuing personal growth or cultivating time to improve strategic thinking.
- The instinctive natural and human fear of not being enough is also the main fear that makes it difficult to create an inclusive culture, because when we allow “the judge in our head” to take control, we actually sabotage any attempts of creating a safe and non-judgmental inclusive space. Even if the latest Diversity&Inclusion program of our Company “invites to the table” and “includes” everybody, we are not going to be really inclusive, and included, unless we stop being self-conscious (i.e. looking inward and cautiously evaluating every step) and we rather start to develop the skills of inclusive leadership.
So, in a way, it is all coming down to the same issue. Men and women, we must grow up and stop worrying about being good enough or right enough or appearing as good enough, or giving the impression of being good enough, etc. When we were kids, we were seeking approval by parents or grown ups for anything we are learning or doing, again and again. Now we sometimes nurture the habit of seeking approval from an imaginary figure inside our head. It is a totally normal and human thing to do, but it does distract us from the big picture, which is where we need to focus in order to have an impact.
Easier said than done right?
Well, BEING AWARE is already the first step, and a big step, it takes us 50% of the way. The other 50% is practical: identify the appropriate strategy and practice!
==>> Let’s start with the FIRST CHALLENGE: Time Management.
Once you are aware that there is always an underlying fear of not being enough, then you can take a closer look at exactly what type of poor time management habit you have developed, so you can hack into the bad habit with the appropriate strategy.
- The Busy Myth. If you catch yourself feeling like a hero for voluntarily taking on extra work, look deeper. Who are you trying to please or impress? Chances are you are trying to impress “the judge in your head” and you might self-deceive by thinking that you do it “for them”. Look for a clue, like you get irritated if others do not see it or appreciate it.
- STRATEGY #1: repeat to yourself: “I choose to do it for myself because it makes me feel good”; you will feel better, no longer a victim, and you’ll probably start to do less.
- Cannot say No. It you keep saying Yes to any request that comes your way because “it they ask it means that they really need it” look deeper. Are you encouraging people to ask you because it is easier for them to dump it on you than to do it themselves, or to choose whether it is really necessary, or to decide what are the best resources for it? Look for a clue. Try to use silence and make them repeat the request. If you notice some hesitation, there is your cue to apply the:
- STRATEGY #2: be really helpful by asking key questions: what is the real need? how could it be done best and by whom? etc. (do not assume it is meant for you, maybe you were asked to help brainstorm about it); help the other person fine-tune and substantiate their request; chances are a big chuck of requests will disappear of get rerouted.
- Getting easily distracted. If you are constantly losing focus away from what you are doing because you pay attention to every email or WhatsApp or you find yourself hopping from one web search to another under the illusion that you are keeping up with news and educating yourself, look deeper: are you just amassing information without any time to process it? then 90% of the info is lost. Our brain parks unprocessed ideas in superficial memories and without a proper architecture they are lost. Multitasking is proven to make us tired and decrease our brain capacity. So:
- STRATEGY #3: learn to stay focused and do not multitask; before a lengthy task, take a couple of minutes to relax your breathing, maybe meditate; then it is easier to hold focus. Those who learn to do one thing at a time after a life of multitasking are always surprised at how they manage to do more and still feel that they are doing less.
- Lacking a clear Goal. This can be a bit tricky because, in order not to fill our time with trivial stuff, we need to decide what is not trivial. It means choosing to place something on a To Do List and something else into a Not To Do List. There will be exceptions, but the only way to limit the exceptions is to hold ourselves accountable, so:
- STRATEGY # 4 is to tick both the To Do and the Not To Do List and learn to feel equally proud for both. Sharing our goal and our accomplishments with another person can help.
- Not valuing myself. This is the most tricky one and I must say that it is also the one where I notice the biggest difference between men and women. Men tend to assign a higher value on their time (if they have a golfing weekend they have a golfing weekend, no exceptions), while women “accept” to “sacrifice” a larger chunk of their time, without even mentioning (although maybe blaming afterwards). The main clue: perfectionism. If you are painstakingly doing and redoing, it means that you see whatever it is that you are doing as more important than yourself. Ouch!
- STRATEGY #5: tell yourself “I am NOT a vending machine, an automatic distributor that produces answers to questions, executions to requests and repetitive executions to trivial demands; my value is in thinking, solving, creating, collaborating. To do that, I need my rest and my recharge.”
If you need a mindful coaching program to help you dig into your Time Management Traps, set your Strategies and follow up with Accountability, look at the purple box below, we offer you a free session for every three session program.
==>> Let’s now look at the SECOND CHALLENGE: Inclusion.
I often say: “diversity is a fact, inclusion is hard work”. Because we are all different; even when we look alike and share many traits, we have different feelings and different and I believe that this diversity is the greatest richness of humankind. However, our diversity is also the birthplace of misunderstandings, disagreements and conflicts; all of which can be beneficial, if we use them as challenges, opportunities to learn from each other and grow together. But if we are insecure, inwardly focused and afraid of not being enough or not being right, we will stick to those more similar to us and create shields or barriers towards those who are more different.
The root of segregation is fear. Inclusion is an act of courage. Creating an inclusive culture requires continues acts of courage and faith, each of us to trust rather than to fear, to be curious and willing to learn as well as to be passionate and willing to share. It is not easy deed, but it simply starts from getting out of our head, turning from being obsessively self-conscious into being self aware and willing to make the effort.
My good friend, professor Andrea Sordi, former international top executive (Mondelez) and now lecturer at the Business School of Tennessee University, as well as Leadership Consultant, will be sharing his thoughts about the value of Inclusive Leadership and the required 7 Pillars in a series of two webinars. As a reader of the Grooa Newsletter, you benefit from a discount, see green box below.
I hope you found my reflections useful and thought provoking and the special offers interesting.
And by the way, LIS Woman is an invitation-only program with a restricted number of participants; we will only 20 more Members to start in October, so we are starting to review nominations and accepting reservations in the coming weeks. If you wish to nominate a high potential business woman, please use go tho the blue box below.
Take care and continue to courageously …
… Lead with a Smile!
Managing Partner, Grooa AS
Registered company address: Manglerudveien 93, 0678 Oslo (Norway)
Visiting address: Grooa Inspiria Learning Center, Den Hiek 33, 5421XG Gemert (Netherlands)
101: Revealing the WHY and HOW of Inclusive Leadership
by Prof. Andrea Sordi
Part 1: May 27, 2021 4:00PM – 5:00 PM
Part 2: Jun 3, 2021 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
(Regular fee: 120 € – Use promotional code PROMO at payment to receive a 60% discount)