Like so many others, I’ve navigated a flurry of changes over the past 18 months — some predictably, most not. My whole family received COVID-19. I gave birth to my third daughter in the hospital wearing a mask and no one to visit. I have postpartum depression. This personal roller coaster converges with my business, as I manage a team of over 70 people, all juggling their own strange new realities; people who want easy-to-understand answers that I don’t necessarily have to give them.
We hope for the best while preparing for the worst, and I’m stuck by my overzealous communication policy while trying my best not to make my team more anxious than they already are. . And for a while, that meant I had to put on my “fearless leader” mask and hide the unsightly shell I had spent years building (with the same determination). which I used when, four years ago, a male investor assured me I could be a mother or a founder and CEO combined, but not both). I decided this was just what my group and family needed to stay on course when everything else seemed so uncertain.
Also, looking around myself with the number of deaths and broken families, I can’t help but think that what I’ve been through is insignificant. Between the collective pain and the fever of social frustration, I wondered how I could admit that I was struggling too.
That facade first began to crack during a survey of postpartum depression at my pediatrician’s office. After the session, my doctor came to me and told me it was okay to feel sad, and that I shouldn’t compare my pain with others because it still hurts. It completely fell apart when, in a meeting with 20 people, I broke down and cried. I’m not the leader I thought I was. Then I realized that could actually be a good thing. Acknowledging that I was ultimately struggling wasn’t just therapy for me — all of these vulnerable moments created a safe space for others to do the same and helped me channel my exhaustion. Turn your efforts into happiness without judgment, which is an infinitely better example to lead and parent through.
As the world began to open up a little more (with the buzzing hourly question, “How’s your quarantine?”), I took the time to find out what other parents are feeling, what they are going through. It is clear that we all experience varying degrees of acute burnout. From these observations, I gathered a new perspective on work and life.
The slippery idea of “work-life balance” has become synonymous with “have it all”. I feel what really needs to happen is to explicitly and purposefully redefine and re-emphasize not having to do it all. The path isn’t always linear, but here are the tools and steps I’ve learned to rely on in the face of burnout — as a leader, as a father mother and as a human being.
1. Ask for what you want (and ruthlessly outsource)
People often ask me how to balance it all. The real answer is that I don’t — but with my team, we do. I gradually learned the art of asking for what I needed, when I needed it. Honestly, the first and most important step of this, for me, is at least mentally. This means I realize I can’t be all things to everyone and hiring…
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