Updated: Aug 27
Too often I work with clients that cannot remember when their last vacation was. I often hear statements like this one: I start by day with text messages from board members at 5am and often end my day on a phone call with another board member at 11pm.
If I’m being honest, and transparent with you, I have been just as guilty of these behaviors, too.
Several executive coaching clients of mine have broken down in tears when I ask them how they’re doing. Initially they respond with the quick-reply, “I’m hanging in there,” but then I probe and ask them again.
I recognize that you have a lot on your plate and how you described your responsibilities and current tasks, I’m not sure how you are managing it all. How are a YOU doing? That’s when the tears come.
The hustle and grind mentality is not healthy. It adds to our constant fatigue, stress, and anxiety. It also adds, ore made to, depression. In fact, it’s also been identified as part of our white supremacy culture.
Here’s a great article I ran across and it opened my mind immensely to this issue. This article is a great resource to help identify characteristics of white supremacy culture which show up in our organizations. Some of the characteristics are: perfectionism, sense of urgency, and quantity over quality.
We are taught to identify white supremacy with violent segregationist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and their modern-day equivalents. While people often don’t view this theorization of white supremacy as violent, it can lead to systemic discrimination and physical violence.
The belief that traditional standards and values are objective and unbiased; the emphasis on a sense of urgency and quantity over quality, which can be summarized by the phrase “the ends justify the means”; perfectionism that leaves little room for mistakes; and binary thinking.
These values, established over time as history and fact, have been used to create the narrative of white supremacy that underpins professionalism today, playing out in the hiring, firing, and day-to-day management of workplaces around the world.
I’ve been working with a coach on my own issues with some of these characteristics. I put immense pressure on myself while often giving grace to others. But, why is it so hard to easily give grace to myself?
Are you someone who prides yourself on how busy you are? Or what about your mast vacation a do you remember when that was? When you take time away from work, did you continue checking your emails?
When I get an email, I feel the sense of urgency that I need to respond to it immediately. When I receive a call or text from a client, I often drop what I’m doing and reply to them, leaving my current task to return back to when I can.
I take my laptop on all vacations and pay for the WiFi connection on both personal and business flights. It may sound absurd to some of you while others may be seeing a lot of your own behaviors in these descriptions I have shared above.
So why do we do what we do? Why do we feed into this everything is urgent way of thinking? If you refer back to the article I referenced earlier, it may be learned behavior that we have absorbed from our previous environments. Perfectionism's cause isn't always clear. It's often a learned behavior. People with perfectionism believe that they're valuable only because of what they achieve or what they do for other people.
Some people may agree that having a sense of urgency is a positive attribute. For starters, a sense of urgency will naturally boost your levels of productivity because it forces you to work faster, and therefore also think faster than you normally would. Pressured thinking will stimulate your creativity and encourage you to think outside the box about your tasks and problems.
While beneficial in small doses, urgent thinking is dangerous in excess. And working with a sense of urgency creates the illusion of productivity and decisiveness, but rushing through work on a daily basis puts your job at risk of sacrificing quality for speed. It’s not good for business, and equally important, it’s not good for the individual.
It’s quite easy to fall into a pattern of urgent thinking. Different pressures throughout our lives expose us to it at numerous formative points. And there are many ways this habit is reinforced without us even realizing it.
If any of this resonated with you, I want to give you permission to take a day off. Enable your out of office and resist checking your emails.
It’s a practice I’m working and challenge you to do the same. It's a reminder and permission that I give my executive coaching clients regularly - because we all need a gentle reminder.
Let’s stop perpetuating the problem.
Here are a few additional resources, and amazing people, that I have found helpful in my own life:
Stay well and balanced! If I can be of service to you, please reach out. We're in this together and the sooner we recognize our unhealthy habits, we can change the systems that perpetuate the hustle and grind behaviors to break the patterns forever.