Jodi Detjen, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Sawyer Business School, has been tackling these tough questions for years. As the co-author of The Orange Line™ - A Women’s Guide to Integrating Career, Family and Life, she’s interviewed hundreds of college-educated women about their careers and work-life struggles. She’s found that most women feel constrained by outdated and unrealistic ideals.
That’s why she and co-author Kelly Watson started Orange Grove Consulting—an innovative leadership development agency that helps women and organizations eradicate some of the most common self-limiting assumptions.
“Our workshops are designed to help women change the way they think. They leave empowered and ready to make positive changes in their lives,” Detjen said. Her ultimate goal is to help organizations create environments that foster women leadership.
Here’s how to rethink some of the most common assumptions:
Assumption 1: I need to be perfect
Many women assume that they need to do everything and do it perfectly. As they struggle to fulfill this unrealistic ideal, they consistently fall short and feel like they’re not good enough, Detjen explains.
As a result, some women may overcompensate by over-achieving the smallest and least-important tasks. Others may avoid risks—like asking for a promotion—out of fear of failing.
Shift your mindset: No one is perfect. Devote more time and attention to the most important tasks, and stop obsessing over the little things—it doesn’t matter if your child’s birthday invitations are handmade or store bought. Spending less time on those tasks frees up your creative energy to think bigger.
Assumption 2: I am responsible for home and family first. My career is secondary.
Women in dual-parent households often feel pressure to be the primary caretaker for the home and family. As they fight an impossible battle for time, they may end up having to sacrifice all or part of their career for the family.
Shift your mindset: Women and men need to be flexible together—both of their careers are important. By sharing responsibilities, you’re no longer limited by either-or options. You can also compromise by delegating chores and hiring help. As you stop over-achieving and start involving everyone in the family, it builds a sense of independence in your home.
Assumption 3: If I do good work, good things will happen.
“A common belief is that good work is rewarded. Instead of asking for a promotion, we wait,” says Detjen.
But that’s not how it works in business. Simply doing a good job isn’t enough to get what you want out of your career.
Shift your mindset: Women need to take responsibility and say what they need, want, and deserve. Detjen recommends that you regularly share your accomplishments with your supervisors. “Maybe you make a point to send an email after you make a good deal. Self-promoting is a good thing,” she says.
Shifting these three assumptions frees women up to embrace growth—both professionally and personally. “At the end of the day, it’s all about freedom. Freedom to explore and create new opportunities for ourselves.”