By Sue Hawkes, CEO of YESS! and WPO Chapter Chair
Female business leaders are seen as tough, confident women who can handle anything. This is true, but what happens when a true catastrophe happens in your life? I had this experience in 2008. The economy had crashed so my two businesses were failing, my house was in foreclosure, my marriage was falling apart and in quick succession my mother, brother and father passed away. My grief was affecting every aspect of my life, including my work. This is quite common; the “Grief Index: Hidden Annual Costs of Grief in America’s Workplace” study found that 85 percent of management-level decision-makers surveyed said that their decision-making ranked from “very poor” to “fair” in the weeks or months after a grief-inducing event.
Dealing with circumstances like these can feel especially difficult as women because we are often also the ones who run the household. In fact, a new study by Springer journal found that “Canadian women of all ages still tend to do more household chores than their male partners, no matter how much they work or earn in a job outside the home.” As I worked to get through these situations, I realized that I couldn’t perform at my best while my personal life was in turmoil. Leaders must be at their best mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in order to bring their best to the workplace.
When I was in my darkest place I realized that I needed to make some serious changes in my life or they would start happening without my consent. The practices below helped me conquer my catastrophe and get back to a whole, healthier self.
Lower the bar.
We’ve all heard over and over again that we should exercise three times a week. But, does anyone really do this when they have a family and big career? I started to question this advice, and that is when the philosophy of lowering the bar first came to me. It may sound trite, but as someone whose identity is wrapped up in achieving and always raising the bar, this was a foreign concept. Life was giving me more than even I could handle, and I realized I needed to pare back to a goal I could actually hit, even if it meant doing less than the suggested amount.