Permission To Not Be Proficient

Last year, after being in a new role at work for a few months I spent a week sitting in a conference room somewhere in the Midwest learning about Leadership. A few days into the event we embarked on a unit about development and the woman who was facilitating the course asked the crowd which skills are more important to develop — your strengths or your weaknesses.

My mind instantly went to my weaknesses: I’m not a good listener (I should work on that!), I can be a little bossy (add it to the list!), my enthusiasm for life can make me look a little bit spastic sometimes (tone it down a little!), my ability to adapt and be flexible can make me seem wishy-washy (this list is getting longer by the minute.)

Her response actually shocked me a little:

Master Your Strengths

I had never looked at the strength/weakness dichotomy in quite that way, and somewhere in that discussion a light bulb went off: In work and in life we are not responsible for DOING everything that shows up on our plates, what we are responsible for is ensuring everything there GETS DONE. Simple, but profound. And man, does that philosophy make a difference.

As a goal-oriented person, my tendency is to want to push for proficiency in every possible area. If I can’t do something at CrossFit I want to work on it until I get better. I want to be a career woman, but also have a clean awesomely decorated house, throw great parties, eat healthy meals, keep my partner interested, stay in touch with my family, be a great friend, and own the cutest most well-behaved dog on a the planet who never gets sick and plays eager fetch with Spiderman toys all the time because that’s what he’d prefer. I do this in all parts of my life, frankly.

But I think I’m finally learning to let go of that a bit, and honestly, I feel a huge sense of relief.

It’s not perfect, but I’ve changed up a few things:

*I’ve outsourced the cleaning of my house (BEST DECISION OF MY ADULT LIFE)
*I’m still doing a weekly cook up, but a shorter one. Then cooking twice per week and making some simpler meals
*I’m working out in the mornings. Not because I love hearing my alarm go off at 4am, but because when I get home after work at 5 it means I have the energy to play with my dog or call friends or work on fun projects instead of crawling home from the gym at 6:30 and just dying to veg out on the couch.

It’s baby steps, but it’s also baby steps that have a domino effect. And one of the biggest dominoes falling is this idea of giving myself permission to not be “proficient” at everything. I know that sounds so silly, but honestly it’s been such a mental game changer (and guilt reducer!) I mean, listen I am NOT proficient at keeping dog hair off my floors okay and I own that. But it’s all good because I know someone who is proficient at that and *I* am super proficient and scheduling her to to come at regular intervals! Win-win!

So now I’m on the lookout for what to outsource next. LIBERATION, I tell you.

Watch out world!

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12 comments to Permission To Not Be Proficient

  • Traci
    April 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I can’t even tell you how much I love this. What a great lesson. I, like you, try to master everything. I hope to outsource more and more as I get older and wiser. :]

  • jillian
    April 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I agree. Great post. I am on the verge of hiring a cleaning person myself.

  • Erica
    April 8, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I love having a housekeeper. It’s the only thing I outsource at the moment and I’m so glad I do. Also I don’t make baby food.

  • Beth
    April 8, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    House keeper is the best gift my hubs and I have ever given each other, hands down.

    I need to take a lesson on the cooking. I’m trying to work, go through the Nutritional Therapy program, work out on occasion, and have a tiny bit of a social life all while still doing giant cook ups and eating out of recipes all week. Somethings gotta give, so I think we’re about to start enjoying a lot of taco salad. Thanks for unintentionally giving me the okay to step it down a notch in the kitchen. :)

    • Holly
      April 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I think when you are a person who enjoys cooking like us it can feel like a failure when you’re making simple or repetitive meals. But then when I really think about, our favorite repeat meals (taco salad included) are REALLY FREAKING GOOD, which is why we repeat them, so why not purposely take advantage!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
    April 9, 2014 at 5:34 am

    I’m definitely that person that needs to do a million things and I want to rock them all! I think I really just need to learn that sometimes, I can’t add anything more to my plate, and even if I can make it work, maybe I shouldn’t. Easier said than done!

    I think having a housekeeper is one of the signs that “you’ve made it” in life! Congrats haha. I dream of someone else cleaning my house. Maybe one day :)

  • Allison B
    April 9, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Nice to head so many people chime in on the house cleaning issue. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but a little nagging voice keeps saying, “come on, you’re single. you can’t even clean up after yourself?” But I’m coming to realize it’s not that I CANT, it’s just that I don’t enjoy it, I’m not great at it, and it stresses me out when it’s not done. So why not get someone to help with that? I have an accountant to do my taxes and that doesn’t phase me. So, thanks for the affirmation!

    • Holly
      April 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

      I think things like that all the time, but honestly: DO IT. The nice thing about hiring someone to clean is that you are on a regular schedule of cleaning. I actually find it helps me straighten up even more because I like to make the “Deeply Cleaned Feeling” last. LOL But I’m weird like that. đŸ˜‰

  • Heather
    April 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Sometimes I’m embarassed to tell people I have a cleaning lady and that my husband pays someone to mow our lawn. This makes me feel better!

  • Scot Herrick
    April 10, 2014 at 7:26 am

    To kind of move the comments back to strengths (we have a house cleaner as well; a great investment!), one has to first know what their strengths and weaknesses are in life.

    To extend the “work your strengths” piece, the idea is to make your strengths so strong that people (or managers…) will overlook your weaknesses. If you’re great at organizing, learn more about organization so you become an expert at it.

    From a work perspective, you want to be so good at something that people naturally point to you as the expert in that area. Hopefully, what your good at matches up with your values. Otherwise you get the “curse of competency” where you are really good at something that doesn’t match your values!

    None of this will give you job security, but it will help you know where you fit in an organization (or group) and how you can support the group.





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