In my executive coaching practice, I have come to find that the success over-commitment often promises is hard won, if won at all. Left unaddressed over time, over-commitment will hurt you and possibly kill your career.
The over-committed college student writes, “While my anxiety has soared, I luckily haven’t run into serious consequences yet.” Just wait a few years, I say to myself. These are the words of someone who falsely believes she has dodged the effects of over-commitment. She hasn’t. The consequences are serious and they rarely fail to show up over time.
Now, fast forward some years and the consequences can be easily seen in the executive who is in constant “fire fighting” mode. Symptoms: exaggerated exhaustion and consistent failure to produce excellent work. Sound familiar?
WHY YOU WON’T SLOW DOWN
When I look at the load many executives have taken on, I can come to a simple, single conclusion: the load is more than one person can do successfully.
And why do you agree to a workload that is not viable for one person to execute? Your boss, you say? You think, “If I don’t get it all done, I will be fired or replaced.” Really?
Your boss cannot see that the load is killing you? You have been out twice on medical leave. Your spouse, children, friends, and executive coach all see it and are effected by it. However, no one is suffering more than you.
Here’s the truth behind the over-commitment to your boss: You don’t want to disappoint anyone. You want to prove you can do it. You don’t want to fail. I’ve heard these sentiments time and again while coaching; you are not alone in this.
Conversely, for some, this is the truth: you would rather die than fail, disappoint or not be good enough. And for the first time in your life, you’re coming to terms with it. But why hold so fiercely onto something that is damaging you, your health and your personal relationships? Be careful of this “truth”…it just may trap you.
GO EXPLORING FOR THE STRAIGHT TRUTH
Why would I keep this unproductive, harmful commitment to over-commitment in my life? For everyone the answer is different and deeply personal. It is sacred ground and it is important to tread lightly. I highly recommend personal journaling.
Use journaling as your search tool to probe deeply. Ask yourself: Why is it so important that I not disappoint my boss? What would happen if I weren’t good enough? What are the costs to my health when I incur so much stress? What do I believe would happen if I stopped living to prove myself? What would happen if I disappointed someone?
These are excellent AND uncomfortable questions to ask yourself. And even tougher to sit with them. But I believe your mind will take on the challenge if you begin to ask. Maybe you will get very clear answers. Maybe you won’t. There is no harm in asking, only benefits.