How women rise: the to-don't list


The disease of "busyness" is pandemic.

For women especially, "having it all" can begin to feel like a crushing burden.

What's more, there are messages constantly flying at us that say we need a side hustle while also making time to disconnect, be present and meditate.

We are all running around trying be super human and do everything, and it is exhausting.

The book How Women Rise offers an alternative course:

Recognize the things you're currently doing that are no longer serving you and then attempt to STOP DOING THEM.

Did you get that?

NOT: add these 18 things to you to do list.

NOT: create 500 new rituals

NOT: attempt to climb an insurmountable goal mountain

NOT: learn a new methodology and rules

Instead: have a bit of self-awareness and STOP a current behavior

STOP doing something?

Yes. I know.

Take a deep breath and let that sink in for a moment.

It is OK to STOP doing things.

Especially those things that no longer serve you!

But, how do we know which behaviors no longer serve us?

This can be tricky given that our brains become wired to repeat our prior thoughts and actions. When we achieve success based on those default behaviors, we invent stories for why we behave as we do, which further attributes our position in the world to those behaviors.

First, we have to overcome the "success delusion" -- the belief that because we've been successful, not only do we not need to change, we probably should not change. If we do, we might lose our advantage.

With some work, it is possible to rewire our brains to avoid the default behaviors that stand in the way of our success.

In How Women Rise, Salley Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith outline 12 habits that hold women back from reaching their full potential. Their premise is that many of the behaviors that work early on in women's careers can end up holding them back as they move on to higher levels.

Habits like "Reluctance to Claim Your Achievements," "Expecting Others to Spontaneously Notice and Reward Your Contribution," and "The Disease to Please" are common among women and get in the way as they take on leadership roles in their organizations and communities.

The To-Don't List

Once you identify a behavior you wish to no longer let run on default, consciously try NOT to do it. Make it easy to begin by creating a short list of To-Don'ts.

Make your To-Don't list actionable:

  • Consider the behaviors you often regret and wish you could control better in the moment

  • Identify activities that eat up your time, keep you trapped or offer minimal progress toward your priorities

  • Make a distinction between behaviors you wish to EMBRACE and those you wish to LET GO OF

  • Take note whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed -- what are the things you're doing that aren't actually mission critical but you feel like you SHOULD do them? Get rid of those "shoulds."

  • Make sure your list describes specific ACTIONS rather than attitudes, aspirations or complex behaviors.

  • Recruit an accountability buddy to keep you on track

Here are some examples from How Women Rise:

  • I will let go of immediately saying yes or no to requests so I can take time to think about what works for me.

  • I will let go of nodding my head when someone's talking because I've learned that this often gets interpreted as assent or agreement.

  • I will let go of answering questions with Yes but, since it is a disguised way of contradicting others.

Breean MillerComment