Ep #76: Thinking Fatigue for Female Entrepreneurs
Are you experiencing thinking fatigue? If your employees are wanting you to think for them and are relying on you to make all of the decisions for them, here are some suggestions for how you can stop being that continuous crutch.
What you’ll find in this episode:
- Kris’ recent commitment – “I will no longer make decisions that other people are capable of making.”
- Can you handle the failure if you let them make a decision?
- If you have decision fatigue, and you have women who report to you, then they have it, too.
- The secret to “CEO-ing” aka how to conduct a beautiful orchestra without playing a fiddle.
- The painful key – you have to develop the patience to watch your employees think.
Featured on the Show and Other Notes:
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- Ep 74 – Why Female Entrepreneurs Must Learn to Tolerate Team Member Mistakes
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Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team Podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now, today, to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Hello. Welcome. How are you? We are making our way through the summer of 2020, slowly. If you’re anything like me, you’re just waiting for this year to be over. What a crazy time, right? So lots of great things happening though. So, in addition to this just being generally nutty, I think there’s also some really interesting wins that are happening for people in life as well. I, for sure, am going through that myself. And so about this time every year, I start getting really excited for my retreat in Hawaii.
If you have been following me for any length of time that I lead a retreat in Hawaii every year. It’s magic. It is truly a gift I give myself, but also I know it is for others and have done so now, this would have been my eighth year. I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I will be honest, I have reserved a condo for October, and I’ve heard varying degrees of feedback. I have quite a few physicians or healthcare professionals in my program and every single one of them without fail has said they’ll get on a plane to see me next year. While others are like, “No, let’s go. I want to go now.” So yeah. So we’ll see what happens there, but definitely this year is just different. We’re all at this point, as I’m recording this, it’s the end of July, and so we’re also all starting to I know make decisions either as communities or as families about what people with young children will be doing as it relates to school.
No matter how we slice it, I know that the additional responsibilities of dealing with kids at home, you know, by and large, falls on most mothers. And mothers who are also female entrepreneurs, I feel you. I know the additional burden that is and the challenge that is for you to even just work, let alone make money and then try to be present and do the things that your kids need, which, of course, is just monumental at this point. So I have a lot I want to talk about, but the reason I’m leading in with pandemic, pandemic 107, is because I think it definitely correlates to what I want to talk with you about. So one of the things that has been happening here in our house is one of my kids likes to go out. I have two introverts and I have one extrovert, and my extrovert, he loves to go out. He wants to see people and be with friends. And he’s 15, of course he does. This is so difficult.
And so we’ve had to chat about how we’re going to make that happen. But before we did, he would come to me and he would say, “Can I go somewhere with friends? Can I go to the lake? Can I do this? Can I do that?: And I felt the weight of such a monumental decision because, and I finally told him this, I said, “I just want you to understand that when you come to me and say, ‘Can I go do this?’ I feel like I’m making a life or death decision because this illness that’s plaguing our societies right now is unknown to us.” So I don’t know if I should be taking it lightly or really seriously. I have no idea and, of course, it’s really hard to get good data. So I’m just trusting the experts, in my opinion. And so I told him, I said, “This is just such a grave decision every time you ask it.”
And so I journaled about it and I walked and I thought, and I journaled. And I finally wrote this sentence down and I wrote, “I will no longer make decisions that other people are capable of making.” And I think, well, first of all, that thought was so powerful for me because I realized I was taking on the responsibility for making a decision that I’m not qualified to make. Most of the time as a parent, I am. But right now, I don’t feel that way. And so my husband and I sat down and we talked about what kinds of expectations and rules we were going to have as a family during this time. And then we met with our kids and we talked about it and everybody understood. And so then what we did is we built our family collective brain so I don’t have to be the one who’s always making the decision. The family brain has now spoken.
The family brain has decided, “This is what we’re doing. We’re doing a friend or two at a time. No parties, no big events.” So we made our decision about what it is and we feel good about it. And now I don’t have to, every time, use that inertia to make a decision. And I’m using myself as an example, but hopefully you see yourself here. We have to think about those decisions, can I go to the lake with friends, are also coming at me after eight, 10 hours of working and making decisions all day for my business and helping my clients make decisions. So I just in general decision fatigue. And I think all of us are, and all of us are as women oftentimes all the time already. And then you go and you add all of the other elements that you have to think about.
And so I’ve talked to a lot of my clients and this is true not just now but feels more compounded, it’s so frustrating that my employees keep wanting me to think for them. They just want me to think. They don’t want to think for themselves. So I want to understand this from two perspectives. The first one is, of course, they do. They want you to make the decision because then they don’t have to be responsible for the failure. If they make a decision and it doesn’t work out, that’s theirs to own. If you make the decision and it doesn’t work out, that’s yours to own. Who doesn’t want that? I don’t want to take responsibility for that failure. I’ll give it to you, boss. Now, as a woman, are you willingly doing it for them? So if you are always the crutch, if you are always the one who makes the decisions on their behalf, of course, they’re going to keep wanting you to do that. Because then now it’s also about making you happy. It’s also about making sure they don’t do it wrong according to you.
So it’s twofold in that way. So we train people to work with us the way they work with us and if they’re not empowered to make decisions without you, they won’t. So if you’re finding yourself burdened with the decision making that you thought you were paying other people to do for you, you have to change what you’re doing first, which could be as subtle as, “Well, what do you think? Why don’t you tell me what your plan is and I’ll let you know? Why don’t you show me what you’re going to do, and I’ll let you know?” You don’t need to make decisions for other people who are capable of making them for themselves. But can you also handle the failure if you let them make a decision? That’s on the heels of the podcast I did last week. Can you allow and tolerate mistakes? Because it’s the only way you go forward. And it’s the only way you get yourself out of this. But if you’re doing all the thinking for your business, you aren’t building a scalable business that can operate without you.
The second half of this that I do want to mention is that if you think you’re in decision fatigue and you have women who report to you, they do too. If they have family members at home, kids, they’re trying to figure out what to do about school, they have all of that happening, they have fatigue also. If you normally make decisions for them, they’re going to just throw that your way, sister. I don’t want to have to make another decision. Could you please just make it for me? So it’s a dance. And this is so much about CEO-ing that I will continue to talk to you about is that willingness, that sweet spot to find where you are conducting a beautiful orchestra, but you are not getting up and sitting in the first string chair of the violin and playing the instrument. You have to let that first-string violinist figure out how to play the tune right. You can’t possibly play every instrument in the orchestra. They have to figure it out.
And the only way we can do that is if we stop thinking on behalf of our employees and we stop teaching them that we will think on their behalf. So the last thing I would add here is that what comes with this is that you also have to develop patience to watch them think. So, they come to you, they come to a meeting, you’re on a Zoom call, and they say, “Well, we think about this. And what do you think?” And you say to them, “I think I’d like to hear what you have to think about this. What are your thoughts?” And then you have watch them think, and you might want to put a pencil in your eye, because you can see how quick, easy, fast something could be resolved. But they don’t. They have to work it out. And your job, coach, in that moment is to watch them think. Don’t interrupt the process. Allow them to go through the whole process because, you know why? Once they do, they’ll be better at it.
Once they do it again, they’ll be better at it still. Once they do it again, you following me? We’ve got a pattern here, yeah? So we have to allow other people that space. But that usually requires, if you’re anything like many people I know, allegedly, that’s that patients that’s required of you to watch them think. So let’s just take everything I’ve said and put it in a little bit of a summary. There’s a lot going on. A lot of mental taxing, a lot of large life decisions looming for most people. And the irony to me, I don’t even know if I’d say it’s irony, the fascinating thing to me is I know that there are people listening to this podcast all over the world and you’re all doing the same thing. This isn’t just a U.S. thing. This is all of us right now. It’s a crazy town.
And as women who normally, if you’re a woman with your business, you still have so much else going on in your world, now it’s just magnified and it’s just amplified, it’s multiplied. And then what we have is a lot of us have smaller businesses where people are very dependent on you as the owner, founder, CEO, to be the ultimate decider. And what I want to emphasize is, of course, there are always going to be things that you are ultimately going to make decisions on, but there is a lot you could be empowering people to make decisions on, but that’s a process. And we first have to understand, why do they keep coming to you? Well, they keep coming to you, first of all, because it’s easier. Second of all, because they have fear around failing. And third of all, they want to please you. And so they don’t want to disappoint you so they just would rather you just tell them what you want, especially if you tend to be a swooper and you go in and you fix everything everybody does anyway.
And then we have to recognize that in order to get through that, it will require your patience and your empowerment. We have to have the patience to listen to them work out their own thinking and we have to empower them to take the action they think is best and deal with the results. If they get what they thought they’d get and it was great, awesome, they get to own that. If they get what they didn’t think they’d get and it’s not great, awesome, they have to own that. That’s not going to mean they’re going to get fired. That just means, okay, that didn’t work. There has to be this dance that you do so that you can continue to move back and further away from each line in the orchestra, each instrument, and you back up to the point of being that conductor, where you allow the players to play, and you’re the one assimilating it all and making it work.
I hope that metaphor resonates. It really does for me. I like to think of myself that way. So I’m going to invite you to try that on. So thank you so much for tuning in today. As always, I love sharing ideas with you and I certainly always love to hear back from you. Have a great, great afternoon.
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