Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Leadership and Superwoman Syndrome

Volume: May 2018

My wife is amazing. She is a custom application developer (i.e., a technology geek), a mother of two, runs an organic co-op, is a cross-fitter, runs marathons and teaches spin classes. She also cooks healthy meals every night, volunteers at the kids' school, does laundry, is a human taxi service for our 15-year old, and cleans up….a lot. In other words, my wife is a Superwoman. Many of you reading this prose are superwomen as well. Heck, a bunch of guys reading this are supermen. You have it goin’ on, and you have a LOT going on! Yet, you are not satisfied because you feel you could do all these things better. Yes, 90% is good, but you are an A+ person. In addition, you are stressed out of your mind and, on occasion, just a wee bit cranky. Wine is not the answer (even though it beckons with such ferocity). You are unwilling to cut back. You will not settle for less. Yet, something’s gotta give because you are tired, stressed and not the happiest of campers. Look in the mirror please. You are suffering from Superwoman Syndrome.
So how do you cope when you are suffering from Superwoman Syndrome? Yes, yes, sleep is optional, I get that. But seriously, this is not sustainable, you can’t do it all. Or can you? Okay my superwomen and supermen, here are my four recommendations to help you excel while reducing some of that building psychosis.

  1. Mentally take stock. The treadmill you are on does not have an end game. There will be no ribbon. As such, you better learn to love the journey. Take 10 minutes per day to be at peace (call it meditation if you like) and mentally put yourself in a good place that realizes you engage in noble actions. Don’t have 10 minutes? Find Them! Mentally shift to the positive daily, or you will suffer dire consequences down the road.
  2. Force rank your priorities. Make a list from 1 to well, 1,000 and list all the things you do from the most important to the least. Just the size of your list will scare you. Good. Also, you will find it difficult to list, in order of importance, the litany of things you do. You will feel guilty that you have not listed everything #1. Good. (see #3).
  3. Realize that you are not an island. In other words, Delegate. Oh, my goodness, I said the “D” word. A big part of Superwoman Syndrome is feeling like if you don’t do it, you have somehow cheated your family, your friends, your clients. Well get over it sister. It is imperative that you begin to pick off those duties or tasks that other people or vendors could execute. Even though you will feel guilt, the more you delegate the less stress you will experience. Your lowered stress level will help you perform your core priorities and give you a chance to look up and enjoy the nice warm sun.
  4. Allow yourself to savor the journey. Guess what? You are awesome. Give yourself permission to take some satisfaction in the incredible things you accomplish every day. No one else needs to validate you. YOU need to validate you. I guarantee you this: The more you allow yourself to be pleased and happy with the great job(s) you do, the happier you will be with life. Give yourself a break. Please! 
Bottom Line: On the surface Superwoman Syndrome looks admirable. It can be a rough road though. Take stock of what you do. Prioritize. Delegate. And take time to enjoy the journey. After all, you make the journey pretty incredible for those around you. Why not enjoy a bit of the splendor.  
Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based executive coach, leadership development expert, and strategic planner. He wishes a Happy Mother’s Day to all the incredible supermoms out there. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching, strategic planning, or to have Doug speak at your next event, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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