Karlin Sloan is the founder and CEO of Karlin Sloan and Company, Ms. Sloan provides organization development consulting, training and executive coaching to clients the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. She is the author of Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2006) and Unfear (January 2011).
Mitchell thinks he is making himself look great when he emails his boss at midnight on a Saturday on his BlackBerry.
Eileen thinks she’s saving her job by being the last one on the IT team to leave every evening.
Najit thinks she’s got the world’s best client relationship because she never says no to a request.
Adam burns through double espressos getting his client work done and cuts back the hours he reports so he’s not perceived as burning up billable hours.
What’s wrong with this picture? Why are we killing ourselves? How are these things really making us look? Why are we convinced that “above and beyond” makes us look more valuable to our company? It’s perfectly appropriate to demonstrate our competence or loyalty to our organization, but how do we know when it’s overkill?
The best way to distinguish between appropriate “above and beyond” and overdoing it is to ask yourself these three questions: - Is what I'm doing sustainable over time? - Is what I'm doing something that really adds value? - If it doesn’t add value and if it’s not sustainable, am I gaining something important from it?
When you answer yes to any of these questions, above and beyond is the right decision. When you answer no, you have something to think about, and that’s setting boundaries.
Remember these important boundary-setting rules, and you can avoid sacrificing your precious life energy with no return on the investment.
Your time and energy are valuable. This means you must prioritize the time that feeds your energy, not just the time devoted to performing. Customers, bosses, key deliverables—all of these are important. So, how do you balance everything that comes your way during a given week? By making sure you set clear expectations of what you can and cannot deliver.
If you don’t protect your valuable energy, who will?
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