“Honor your commitments with integrity.”― Les Brown
Establishing boundaries and guarding our time are two critical skills that women leaders honor. Within The Better U Project community we:
Over committing happens to the best of us. We are social beings and want to be included in activities, events and conversations. Most people want to be trusted and want to be seen as someone who can be counted on to accomplish a task.
The majority of us are not intentionally seeking to let someone down or to disappoint our work colleagues, direct supports, customers or our bosses. We're invested in the overall outcome.
However, taking on more responsibilities when your time, energy, or resources are already low or limited is not a good look for women leaders. When you commit to a project, activity or event by saying yes when you really thinking, "not again", this is not beneficial or helpful to you or the organization you represent.
You may want to please everyone or be the person who makes it happen, or even think this is part of your visibility strategy to get promoted. If this is the case, go for it.
However, if you've not considered how much time the commitment you've just made will realistically take, then that is not a good look. We only have 24 hours in a day.
Over committers create perilous situations even when they have good intentions. Most likely their mindset around committing is that it's virtuous. They are somewhat right. Committing to a movement, project, idea or person is reasonable and expected when you want to succeed. However, over committing may be a way to distract from situations or circumstances that need your attention to grow your leadership capacity. Over committing could also reveal a level of neediness, lack of focus or worse, a cowardly inability to say no.
This past weekend I got my eyebrows shaped and I treated myself to a heath bar milk shake. While enjoying my milk shake, I glanced in the mirror and I realized I wanted more time to do this kind of stuff.
Use the "Sandwich Method" to Give Yourself Space Before You Say Yes
You can definitely respond with a complete "no" when asked to commit to a project, event, activity or funds. However, another option is to sandwich your ‘no’’ between two positive statements.
Don't lie. Simply start the conversation by acknowledging the request, then follow with an appropriate and relevant version of "I'm not able to commit to XYZ". You close this "sandwich" with, "Thanks for considering me, If things change I'll let you know."
You may not have all of the information to make an informed decision or once you've had time to check your calendar and other commitments you may very well be able or willing to circle back and support that request.
Remember to start and end by saying something nice (the two slices of bread). Put the negative or neutral clause in the middle (the meat or veggie patty):
By being aware of overpromising, overextending, overestimating and overdoing we can decide to make different choices. Choices that reflect our values, desires and goals.
TAKE THE BETTER U COMMITMENT CHALLENGE
Challenge yourself to reflect upon and document the number of activities, events, and funds you've committed your time, resources, effort and energy to unintentionally. Be sure to include all aspects of your life; home, family, work, church, associations, and social.
Over the next seven days document all commitments on a calendar. Don't get sidetracked by the type of calendar. Choose an online shared calendar of pull out a sheet of paper.
On the eight day, review your commitments. Decide if they are aligned with your goals. If not, circle back with integrity and move forward with integrity.
As Dr. Carol Williams-Nickelson stated in an American Psychological Association article she published,
"Before committing to something new, take some time to think about the implications, so that if you do agree to take it on you can perform to the best of your abilities and be absolutely certain you can follow through. The first few times you have to turn down an exciting opportunity may feel awkward or unsettling. But it's much better for you and your reputation to do a few things exceedingly well, than a lot of things in a mediocre way."
I'm rooting for you!
Angela M. Odom, Your Leadership Coach
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela M. Odom is a life and leadership coach, founder of The Better U Project brand, podcast host, proud Army veteran and the author of BRONCO STRONG: A Memoir of the Last Deployed Personnel Services Battalion and a contributing author to the book, "Camouflaged Sisters: Leadership Through The Eyes of Senior Military Women Leaders".
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