Cover of book Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

by: Tiffany Dufu

Check out the book on Amazon | your public library.
A different kind of a feminist manifesto - which recognizes the world as it is. On how, as a woman and a parent, maybe sometimes, to get what you want, a ‘be the water” way of changing our behavior and see the world warp accordingly to fit around us. I really loved this book - it brought to light quite a few inconsistencies in my thinking and pointed me to a few strategies to improve my communication. The biggest takeaway — it's right in the title — which has revolutionized my life is this: I am a responsible and rational person with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. So, what I don't want to do, I just don't do – and if it's super important, it will get done by the person to whom it is superimportant! Word.
45 Highlights | 3 Notes
  • When a belief punishes the believer - for instance, when women believe that for us, “having it all” must mean “doing it all” - it becomes what psychologists call “Internalized Oppression.”
  • In addition to fulfilling our professional responsibilities, we feel we are in charge on the home front - we are the ones primarily responsible for managing child care, household chores, and generally keeping our homes and family lines running smoothly.

    And even in the homes where we aren't the ones doing all the work, we are the ones thinking about all the work.
  • They taught me a fundamental truth: if you want something you've never had before, you'll have to do something you've never done before in order to get it.
  • If women are doing twice the housework of men, it means that the children in those households are being sent a clear message that taking care of the home is mostly a women's responsibility, even if no one articulates it explicitly.
  • My problem was that I had fallen into a trap of ' IMAGINARY DELEGATION.' This is when we mentally assign our partners a task but never take the step of telling them. We assume that they will intuit our needs or that they'll naturally step forward if we hang back.
  • I gained another insight about my resentment when I read Anna Fel's book Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives. Fels defines ambition as a desire to achieve mastery of one's craft combined with a desire to receive public recognition for it.
  • As Anne-Marie Slaughter argues, our society doesn't value care the way it values competition.
  • Most modern women scoff at the idea that a woman's place is in the home. And yet, many women still focus obsessively on everything about it - how it's organized, how it's managed, and how the cooking, cleaning, and caretaking get done, right down to the smallest detail.
  • HCD- Home control Disease
  • Many women are emotionally split about what they want. Women have long been dissatisfied that men don't do their share in the domestic sphere. [But when men do take charge] there is often a sharp and reflexive ‘You're not doing that right!’
  • …most women find at least something that they, often irrationally, feel the need to control - even if that thing isn't a meticulous house or home-cooked meal.
  • It's fueled in part by a reluctance to abdicate responsibility in the one place female authority is unquestioned. At home, women wield enormous power.
  • We worry that if things go wrong at home, it will mean we've failed as women, because society tells us that to be a successful woman, we need camera- ready kids and a spotless kitchen. At the same time, we're not supposed to openly admit that we feel our success as women is connected to our success at home. That would make us weak, or atleast old- fashioned. And we are not weak or old-fashioned. We are empowered, modern women, right?
  • As challenging as it is for women to let go at home because of the way we've been socialized, it's doubly hard because we're also creatures of habit.
  • Our Lone Ranger syndrome causes us to focus more on our output and less on cultivating the relationships that are just as critical to our career advancement. We go it alone, expecting to be recognized based on our own merits, without asking the right stakeholders to advocate for us.
  • At home, the Lone Ranger syndrome comes from women's faith in a false efficiency. We believe that whatever we can do better and faster we should just do ourselves. The problem is that we believe we can do everything better and faster, so everything ends up on our list. We can't possibly get it all done, but we still burn ourselves out trying. Because many women have internalized the idea that we should be self reliant in home-related activities while our husbands act as bread winners, asking for help feels like weakness or failure to embody our raison d'etre. In all fairness to women, when we have a lot on our plates, delegating tasks just feels like more work. So we soldier through.
  • In one of my sustainable leadership workshops, I coach women through an exercise where I ask them to write down everything they expect to accomplish in the next 24 hours, And I mean every little thing …
    I then instruct them to do the math: calculate the amount of time it should take to complete each item on the list, then add them up.
    Note: try this, #journal, #to-try
  • I wanted to be able to delegate tasks that were essential to the smooth functioning of our home - and frankly to my own well-being -not with a pinched anxiety that Kojo would never do them right, but with confidence, ease, and ultimately, joy.
    But in order to ask for help, in a meaningful and way, my Sage Mentors told me, I'd have to get clear on may what I was requesting of myself first..
  • Dr. Ayala Malach Pines argues that the root cause of burnout is not that we have too much work to do, it's the feeling that the things we do are not meaningful or don't reflect who we really are.
  • Whenever we had a tough decision to make, we'd ask ourselves if the course of action we were considering was aligned with our four questions:
    1. Will this advance women and/or sub-Saharan Africa?
    2. Is this true to the values our parents instilled in us?
    3. Will this put us on a path to financial freedom?
    4. Will our descendants be proud of us?
  • Jerry emphasized the importance of focusing our attention on the areas where we bring the most value as managers, instead of on the areas where we might be better than others because of experience alone.

    Similarly, if what mattered most to me as a mother was raising conscious global citizens, why was I stressing over organizing Kofi's summer clothes? My highest and best use was reading him a book each night. It was Economics 101- the law of comparative advantage. Put simply, just because you're better at doing something doesn't mean you doing it is the most productive use of time.

    Instead, I had to figure out how I, and I alone, could make a difference - and this was true for my home life as it was for my professional one. Where could I be most useful in order to achieve the things that mattered most?
  • The beauty of the comparative advantage approach is that it helps women shorten those lists and keep their eyes and energies focused on what really matters most to them.
  • … what is a woman burned out from the responsibility of breadwinning and caregiving supposed to do?
    The answer is that she needs to redefine what caregiving means for her and her family. She will have to reject society's unrealistic expectation that she performs bread winning & caregiving flawlessly. She will have to Drop the Ball. That is what the comparative advantage approach can help her to do.
  • … there are three parental activities that have the most influence on our children's success at school: advocating for your children to have specific teachers, talking with your children about the activities they participate in at school, and aspiring for them to attend college.
  • Delegating with Joy is asking someone for help with a higher purpose than the task itself. When we delegate with Joy, we put the task into a larger, more meaningful context, we're saying to the other person, “I'm asking for help with [fill in] because you doing so will help me to live my passion and purpose”
  • Once I adopted the mindset that it wasn't my responsibility to sort the mail, I no longer felt the omnipresent pressure to do so, I had gotten the first taste of what it felt like to truly Drop the Ball.
    It hadn't happened when he'd agreed to take responsibility for the mail three months earlier. Rather, it happened when, for the first time, he really saw the mail, and when he, too, felt the desire for it to disappear. This situation could only home occurred because I had grown totally comfortable with the pile -and exercised a little patience (okay, a lot of patience)
    Note: On when the mail management role truly switched.
  • This was not a onetime occurrence. I came to expect that, more often than not, Kojo was going to drop the ball, but under no circumstances should I pick it up, except in an emergency. Nothing in those envelopes was an emergency. In a life-or-death situation; no one would be notifying me about something vitally important via snail mail, I just had to trust that in time, Kojo would see the ball lying there and retrieve it.
  • In one survey, 30% of men were so certain that the women they lived with would flake on their insistence that the guy do more housework, the men intentionally completed tasks poorly to ensure the frustrated women would just do it themselves next time.
  • Patience is more than a virtue; it's a powerful strategy. Allowing tasks to sit uncompleted reinforces what needs to be done and by whom. The mere passing of time has an amazing way of getting others to contribute, and not just at home.
  • In other words, expecting less of ourselves and more from our partners requires that we not only release a task to the other person, but we also resist doing it ourselves, even when it doesn't get done!
  • When I was growing up, she would look me in the eye and say, “Tiffany, you are so smart, You are so beautiful. You are so loved.” She said it so often that by the time I was a teenager, I found it annoying.”
  • When I came home crying because someone had told me to stop being so 'bossy'', she squealed with delight, “Oh, but I Love that you're bossy, sweetheart.”
  • As Karim spent more time with the boys, he discovered a secret to altering their behavior - praising the good more often than reprimanding the bad.
  • Our culture is really tough on men when it comes to our expectations about what they are capable of in the home, while women fall prey to stereotypes of the perfect wife and mother whose home is impeccable and whose kids are saints, men suffer from an equally damaging stereotype - that of the dumb dad.
  • If women truly want men to step up at home, we have to start seeing them not as dumb, useless, or selfish, but as intelligent, capable, and generous agents of change in our lives. When we do this, we increase the likelihood that they'll measure up as husbands, fathers, and human beings. We also ignite our own possibilities.
  • I started to think to think about the differences in the way we handled deadlines and stress, I'd feel the need to push through, never taking a break for fear I'd fall further behind. He'd turn on the TY, take a nap on the couch, and then wake up early the next morning to get his work done.
  • The first hurdle women have to overcome is a perpetual feeling of culpability. If I had a dollar for every time a woman apologized to me, I would be rich. Unfortunately, saying ‘I'm sorry’ is a tough habit to break, because as women, we've been trained by society to feel culpable for just about anything.
    Note: Instead, say thank You. Read these once a month. Very important for Mitra & me. #remember
  • As women, we are conditioned to act as caretakers and prone to always prioritize others' happiness only above our own. When we don't, we feel bad. And when apologies are not enough, we're quick to offer explanations to prove that our intentions were good and selfless.
  • Women need to stop apologizing, not because we do everything right, but because we need to understand That it is okay to do something wrong. We can be happy and imperfect at the same time.
  • Whatever our happiness practices are, what's most important is that we turn them into habits. Researchers have found that intentional activity is the most promising way to alter one's level of happiness.
  • For me, Stop & Sit would eventually become one of my core happiness habits, always with a cup of tea and the latest issue of O magazine. That simple pause in my evening rippled out to ensure that I included other activities in my week for no other reason than they made me happy.
  • The practices, which I call the Four Go-Tos, are most effective when integrated into our daily routines. They are the following:
    1. going to exercise (building your stamina)
    2. Going to lunch (building your network)
    3. Going to events (building your visibility)
    4. Going to sleep (building your renewal).
  • Just as our village offers support shouldering the burdens of our home lives, our networks - or what I prefer to call ecosystems - help us thrive in our work lines. Ecosystems are interdependent and require nurturing to expand.
  • That's because actually enlisting our spouses and other people in our lives to help manage the home requires more than delegating tasks. It isn't child's play- it necessitates a substantive shift in our beliefs and expectations. It requires being disobedient and pushing back.
  • We need to ask ourselves what matters most to us. What is our highest and best use towards achieving it? What do we need to let go of to make it happen? Who in our lives will help us because they want us to be our best selves? The first step to Dropping the ball is getting over the fear of letting the ball roll all over the floor. We have to let it roll to feel the freedom, laugh loud, and live fully.