What Women Get Wrong About Boundaries with Sasha Shillcutt
Hello friends, we are in the “Your Work Matters” series, and today, we are talking about boundaries at work, balance, and avoiding common pitfalls as women with our work.
I’m with my good friend and client, Dr. Sasha Shillcutt. I’ve been her business coach for about 5 or 6 years, and it’s been a joy to help her navigate her role as a physician and leader of her organization, Brave Enough. Sasha is a wealth of wisdom.
Sasha is a physician, gender equity researcher, speaker, author, wife, mom of four amazing kids, and Founder and CEO of Brave Enough. She started the Brave Enough community because women need each other, and we are at our best when we show up for ourselves and each other.
Sasha’s book Brave Boundaries teaches us strategies for saying no, standing strong, and taking control of our time. Boundaries are kind, not restrictive, and being a person with boundaries is the most empowering and peaceful way to live.
Let’s dive in.
I asked Sasha what women get wrong about boundaries, and I asked this because she’s worked with so many different women and from her experience of working with these women after writing her book. Sasha says the biggest thing women get wrong is that they’re for negative experiences or how to handle problems or toxic people or toxic environments.
However, the reality is that boundaries are more about keeping the good in than they are about keeping the bad out. And when women realize that boundaries are positive, they’re kinder because they are clear and transparent. We need to recognize that the more we love people in our lives, the more we want to serve people, the more we want to show up for people as fully as ourselves, and the more boundaries we need.
It seems to me that women are afraid to have boundaries, especially in the workplace, because we don’t want to be labeled as difficult. We don’t want to be seen as a problematic employee, and that I’m not easy to work with. However, Sasha tells us that it’s really because we’ve been socialized as women to believe that there is power in likability.
So we have this idea that the more likable we are, the more successful we are, the more peace we have, and the more power we have. All of us want to be successful at our jobs. We want to show up; we want to do a good job. But for years, since we were little girls, we’ve been taught to be obedient and likable, so when we think about setting a boundary, we tend to think we’re going to be unliked.
Sasha works with women who are CEOs, deans, and women who have left medicine and have been stay-at-home moms for five years and are now going back into medicine and maybe want to work a couple of days a week. She reveals that the self-sabotage thoughts are the same for all these women. They are limiting beliefs that almost all women have. Sasha says she thinks that we often self-sabotage because we are so afraid of failing, and it’s because of the expectations placed on us.
Our own limiting beliefs are what hold us women back!
“Boundaries are more about keeping the good in than they are about keeping the bad out.”(4:08)
“The more we love people in our lives, want to serve people in our lives, and the more we want to show up as fully ourselves, the more boundaries we need.”(4:25)
“I always remind myself I want to be a person who shows up and does the good work on my job description. If it’s not on your job description, you aren’t required to do it. Or if it’s more than your job description, it’s an opportunity for you to see if you want to do it or not. Then the boundaries, really, and the power lies within you because I always say, ‘You would much rather be a woman who’s respected than a woman who’s liked.”(6:19)
“I think sometimes we play small as women, under the guise of this is what God has called me to do and not that being a stay-at-home mom is playing small, if that is what God has truly called you to be and do. But I think that women have so many things to offer, and I don’t think it’s one or the other.”(12:21)
“We are so afraid of failing at things, things being hard, not getting it right, and making mistakes that we just take ourselves out of the game.”(15:40)
“Women are phenomenal collaborators…they’ve published several studies that show that Fortune 500 companies who excel have more women around the table making decisions, and the reason is that we think differently than men do…and we collaborate, and we listen to other people around the table, and so the idea that comes forward is…a piecemeal of all these different voices, and it’s typically the best idea.”(22:45)
Delegations help us stay focus on doing the work that only we can do – our zone of genius. That only happens when we’re doing the things other people cannot take off our plates. Whether you’re an entrepreneur who owns her business or an executive – whoever you are, whatever business you are doing, you need to delegate well.
We are naturally terrible at delegating because we aren’t trained to delegate. Think about it: Back in high school, did you ever have a teacher say, “Hey, can you get someone else to write that essay for you?” Of course not – that would be cheating. We had to do our own work. We are terrible at delegating because it’s the complete opposite of what we’ve been conditioned and trained to do our entire lives. So because of this I want to give three tips for delegation.
Here’s the secret: not everything has to be perfect. When you delegate, it is good to let go of the urge to want to micromanage every detail. Remember that done is better than perfect.
When delegating, don’t just dump things on someone because you don’t want to do them. But take a minute to find who on your team is best suited to do that work. Who has the skills, and who wants to learn? This is something we do on my team. I have a pretty large team of over thirty women, and what I’m doing is finding out where the women want to go and where they want to grow. If anything comes up, I’ll provide the training on how to do things and delegate to her that way. So, it’s not just me saying, “I don’t want to do this,” and handing out the task. It’s identifying where people want to go. It’s about aligning tasks with strengths and passions.
Communication is the key, but so is trust. Make sure to communicate exactly what you need, the desired outcome, and the deadline. If I am delegating a task that isn’t an admin role, I will create an example of the process myself. I’ll do either a screen recording video, write out step-by-step, or do an example as a template that one can follow. But you will be disappointed if you don’t show them what success looks like. And the great thing about this is if you’re delegating this task to someone else in the future, you already have a system built. You can use the video or the template forever.
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