When you think about it, it’s kind of jaw-dropping how much perception shapes the world. As a CPA, I’m a number’s woman, but even I see that in business, as in life, a lot is open to interpretation.
Your thoughts shape how you see things and accordingly, they shape your actions. I’ve learned to become more aware of my thoughts and determine if they’re hurting or helping. If they’re hurting, I work on reframing the way I think.
Here are a few common misconceptions about work that I’ve observed in others and/or faced myself and why they really don’t matter so much:
No one can execute on my vision as well as I can
This is a super common line of thinking with entrepreneurs and business executives. You feel supremely responsible for the goals you’re trying to achieve so to deliver on what you’ve promised, there is a tendency to do it all yourself or not let other people “mess it up.” But it’s just not a productive way to think -- however convincing it sounds in your own mind.
When you’re thinking this way, it’s really a sign that you need to be delegating more effectively. A key to good delegation is surrounding yourself with employees who have complementary and opposite skillsets from your own. Hiring managers often have a tendency to hire people who are similar to them. But that’s just a surefire way to confine -- or at worst stunt -- the growth of your business. It can be challenging to learn how to properly delegate work, but it’s really worth investing the time and effort.
I waited until I was completely overwhelmed with work and it was impossible for me to resist delegating anymore. It wasn’t good to get to that point, and I’d suggest being proactive about delegating before it gets to that point.
Working more = working better
At one time or another, we all seem to face a situation where we default into thinking that spending more time on work and/or in the office means you’re a harder and better worker. But time and again, research confirms that this idea is nonsense.
A helpful article in the Harvard Business Review highlights all the ways in which overworking really doesn’t help -- it doesn’t actually increase output and it can hurt because increased levels of stress can impact employees’ health. Rather than spending lots of extra time on work, it would be far more rewarding to find systems to ensure you’re productive and focused when you are working and to create space for other things that bring you joy and nourish you during your non-work time. Yoga has been an amazing outlet for me in that regard -- even though it was something I wasn’t originally interested in.
It’s all about the money
It can be easy to fall into the trap of placing too much emphasis on the paycheck. We know that it takes a lot more than money to make employees stay at a company. Writing in the New York Times recently, Ayelet Fisbach, a professor at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, notes: “People send résumés and go to interviews thinking that they care only about salaries and promotions. These are important, yes, but they are not enough. To identify a satisfying job, people should be thinking about office morale and doing work that is interesting and fun.”
Environment and culture is such a big part of what makes employees want to come to work each day, which is why it’s really important to be deliberate about creating a workplace that both you and your employees love. I’m a big believer that flexibility is way more important than pay. Appreciation is critical as well. Saying thank you is great, but it goes deeper than that to ensure your team really feels like someone is taking notice and appreciates their work.
At my yoga studio, for example, we survey our customers each year and identify the quirky or fun things they like about each instructor. At the end of the year, we recognize them based on what customers have said -- it makes it a lot more meaningful and usually provides a good laugh.
So next time you find yourself super stressed at work trying to do too many things at once or focusing just on money and the bottom line, pause, take a breath and ask yourself: is this something I should really be worrying about? It probably isn’t and taking just a minute will help you reframe the thoughts in a more productive way.
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