The first eight years of her marriage, Tiffany Dufu had a beautiful home to go along with her brilliant career raising money to advance women and girls. She did most of the work around the house, but being Type A, she was okay with that.
“It was my dirty secret,” says Dufu, now chief leadership officer at Levo, a professional network for Millennials, and a launch team member of Leanin.org. “As a feminist whose life’s work is to raise women to higher levels of leadership and non-traditional roles, I would come home and turn into a Stepford wife, trying to manage everything impeccably.”
But then she had her first baby—and perfection took a backseat to practicality. “I was physically exhausted just getting back to work,” Dufu recalls. It took three years (and a second baby) for her to figure out a new M.O. that kept her focused on what she needed to do and guilt-free for not doing the rest, and another four years (and what she calls a “Tiffany Epiphany”) to realize that a lot of professional women could use what she figured out.
Dufu shares her approach, advice and more of her story in Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less, which is on shelves Feb. 14. Until then, here are three beliefs that she says women would all be better off letting go of:
#1. “It’s faster if I just do it.”
“This is a false sense of efficiency and sets you up for a dangerous cycle,” Dufu says. “You’re not saving your time by doing someone else’s chore; you’re losing time—and you’re going to continue losing time because that other person is never going to get better at doing the chore with your continually doing it.”
#2. “The more I do, the more I’ll get done.”
Dufu explains: “This comes from an I-can-do-it-all mindset. But you can’t do it all. Nor should you. If you did this at work, you wouldn’t have time to do what you’re paid to do. At home, you also need to know what’s not your job. You should do what only you and no one else can do—and drop what you can’t delegate.”
#3. “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done—and that would make me a bad person.”
“Frankly, I still struggle with this sometimes,” Dufu says. “If my daughter’s hair isn’t beautifully braided, I get this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m a bad mom. But it never occurs to my husband that he’s a bad dad if our son’s hair isn’t combed. Many of us women need to disconnect how we perform from our value as people. In other words, whatever the state of your children’s hair, they still love you.”