I’ve been dipping in and out of a great book by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith called How Women Rise.
The big idea in this book, is that the habits that have got you this far, might not be serving you anymore. I doubt that all the habits described in How Women Rise apply to everyone, but maybe some resonate for you too?
Habit 1: Reluctance to claim your achievements
Habit 2: Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions
Habit 3: Overvaluing expertise
Habit 4: Building rather than leveraging relationships
Habit 5: Failing to enlist allies from day one
Habit 6: Putting your job before your career
Habit 7: The perfection trap
Habit 8: The disease to please
Habit 9: Minimizing
Habit 10: Too much
Habit 11: Ruminating
Habit 12: Letting your radar distract you
All my staff are recruited out of academia because that’s our work. With them, Habit 7: The Perfection Trap is one habit that we consciously work on. When studying, we keep working until the deadline. Your essay can always be improved. It’s always worth another read. That is until you submit it, and then you can NEVER CHANGE IT. So we learn to keep on working until the deadline. But in business, we need to make something good enough and then ship it! If it’s sitting on a computer waiting to be perfect, it’s not doing any good. We call this unshipped inventory — work product that’s not yet earning a return.
When onboaring my staff, this is one of the main ways that I want them to change their behaviour. We train ourselves to ask, how much work is needed to make something better: 2 hours, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month. If there is a 2-hour piece of work that will make it better, we do that first. And in contrast to academia, once it’s out there, it can be improved
I wonder whether some of the high levels of stress and anxiety that we see in academia may be a product of years of essay, exams, dissertations, and grant applications that teach us to keep on working until the deadline? Might this habituate researchers to chasing perfection at the expense of delivering good enough work quickly and efficiently (and then going home to see their family)?
I’m really struggling with Habit 1: Reluctance to claim your achievements and Habit 2: Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions and have hired a coach to help me. One of my areas of weakness is talking about the work I do; part of me wants to stay invisible. Because when you’re invisible, no one can criticize you! But this habit doesn’t serve my business.
So, since it’s the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I’m going to finish by saying that I’m tremendously proud that our online research platform — www.gorilla.sc — is liberating behavioural scientists from the lab, empowering them to increase the speed, scale and reach of their experiments, and unleashing their creativity to improve lives.