Is it time to drop the ball?
What comes to mind when you think about the phrase ‘dropping the ball’.
Author Tiffany Dufu has a different definition in mind.
That useless guy at work that never responds to emails and frequently flakes on meeting action points?
For her, dropping the ball is about figuring out what really matters, then dropping or delegating the rest.
It’s about asking your significant other to step the F up – especially when it comes to the equal split of household and childcare duties.
Here’s her definition:
Drop the ball: to release unrealistic expectations of doing it all and engage others to achieve what matters most to us, deepening our relationships and enriching our lives.
She has loads of interesting research, and more than a few tears and tales to tell. From her transformation of having a hefty dose of ‘household control disorder’ to a more balanced life that includes a fairer share of the household work.
Am sure many of the situations in the book will be familiar to women in their 30’s and onward, whether they have children or not, the fact remains that a large bulk of the household duties (cooking, cleaning, organising), still seem to fall to woman, no matter how much they earn, or how high they rise.
So what’s the solution?
Tiffany has range of sensible approaches from dropping the frequent ‘imaginary delegation’ to exercises on figuring out what really matters in your life.
Simple, but not always easy steps, such as, if someone else drops the ball, its important not to pick it up for them, no matter how much you may want to. (She gives the slightly amusing story of asking her husband to be in charge of opening and sorting the mail, and how she had to once let the mail build up for 3 months, before he got to it!).
While Tiffany mainly concentrates on the dynamic of a husband, wife and kids, the lessons she provides are applicable elsewhere.
One that immediately came to mind was something a previous mentor used to say to me. “Claire, sometimes you have to let them fail.” Meaning if you always swoop in and save the day, or pick up the pieces, then there is no learning.
Here’s a few of the pieces that really leapt off the page at me.
For more check out ‘Drop the Ball: Expect Less from Yourself and get More from Home, Flourish at Work and Life.’
For all the Mums out there Tiffany has some great advice on redefining what a ‘good mother’ means to you. Is it someone who does everything? Or is it someone that focuses on what really matters. She gives the example of previous feeling like she needed to do everything vs defining the 3 things for her that defined what ‘good’ looked like. This meant that reading a story each night was non-negotiable, but someone else could do the pick ups and drop offs from school.
One really interesting piece of research she shared, which I thought might be helpful for the harried mother that feels like she has to be at every bake sale and every sausage sizzle… was this. ‘
“It’s a widely held believe that a parent who volunteers at a child’s school or who helps a child with homework is supporting the academic well-being of a child.”
However research by Keith Robinson and Angel Harris, authors of the Broken Compass, provides otherwise.
“According to Robinson and Harris, there are three parental activities that have the most influence on our childrens success at school; advocating for your children to have specific teachers, talking with your children about the activities they participate in at school, and aspiring for them to attend college.”
I found this remarkable! Where is the homework, the endless ‘other’ duties that are expected. Worth of some consideration as to what might be able to come off your list.
When to delegate
“Just because you are better at doing something, doesn’t mean doing it is the most productive use of your time.”
Tiffany stresses that instead we should focus on the areas where we bring the most value. Where are you at your best?
On what matters most
Ask anyone wants important to them and they can often reel of subjects, examples might be my kids, my work, my health… and so on.
But that’s the easy answer. You need to get a layer deeper and get down to what is it in relation to those areas that matters most.
The powerful question to ask, is this:
“What do you hope for in relationship to area X”
On how she manages to get so much done
“I expect far less of myself and way more of my husband than the average woman.”
She adds later in the book a tip for recovering control addicts, that you need to ‘learn to let others do things’ and respect that it may not be in the way you would have done! Remember the phrase ‘done is better than perfect’!
Grab the book for more info and consider reframing what ‘dropping the ball’ means to you at home and at work!