Balance & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

#6: The Dark Side of Being a Get Sh*t Done Person

The thing you pride yourself on could be your greatest weakness...

Do you pride yourself on being a "get sh*t done" person, or a GSD? What if we told you that this identity might actually be holding you back? In this eye-opening episode, we delve into the dark side of the GSD mindset and reveal the potential pitfalls it can create for your success and well-being. Discover the three common characteristics of GSD types, how they can have a negative impact, and learn effective strategies to move towards a more sustainable and fulfilling identity.

But it doesn't stop there – we also explore the role of artificial intelligence in our lives and how it may threaten our careers if we don't adapt and evolve from the GSD mentality. To thrive in today's rapidly changing world, we need to become "women of influence," redefining achievement, fostering creativity, and staying ahead of the curve by developing new skills.

Listen in as we share actionable tips to help you transition away from the GSD culture and embrace a new, empowering identity that leads to better results, less stress, and a happier, more balanced life.

Here's a glimpse of what you'll uncover in this episode:

  • How your innate high achiever is sabotaging your success and limiting your results at work
  • Why the trifecta of perfectionism, procrastination and people-pleasing is so common and how it’s impacting your efficiency
  • Why you rarely receive the recognition you seek and are chronically undervalued in so many areas of life
  • How A.I. is changing the game for GSDs and making the shift to a woman of influence much more urgent
  • Three specific strategies you can implement today to make this transition and tame the dark side of your GSD nature.

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Episode Transcript

INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…

Jo: Are you a get shit done kind of person? Or a-get-stuff-done if there are little ears around? By that, I mean, you're someone who can really produce. You never let anybody down. You always get it done. You're reliable. You do it faster, you do it better than anybody else. Well, if this is you, and you feel like this has become part of your identity, and part of your success, then I want to explain to you what's really going on and how being a get shit done person may be a trait that's not serving you anymore. And, really importantly, I want to give you some strategies that are going to help you make the shift to a different type of identity that's actually going to get you better results, have less stress and reduce your chance of burnout. Sounds pretty good, huh? All right. 

Well, let's talk about who is a GSD, which is that “get-stuff-done” kind of person. Now, there's many, many different characteristics, but I want to share with you what I have seen time and time again, the three pieces that really pull these GSD types together. And, for full confession, for most of my career, I was one of those people. I prided myself on and I built my reputation on being able to do more, my capability, the speed. However, like anything in life, there is this beautiful duality. And while you may be a GSD, there is a dark side to these characteristics that, if not managed, can plateau your career, can cause you to burn out and do all kinds of god awful things that we don't want to happen. So let's talk about what are these three most common characteristics that we see in GSD people, and especially women? So the first characteristic that I've seen time and time again, is that these women would call themselves "a high achiever." By this I mean you're self-motivated, driven, ambitious, you have really really high standards of work, and these are all wonderful traits. Who doesn't want to be ambitious? Who doesn't want to have a high quality of work and be known for a high quality of output? 

However, the dark side to anything, used too much, or when you lean in to what is a strength, it becomes a handicap. And the thing is the high achiever, who is usually a GSD, has all this pressure that is completely self-inflicted. There is nobody telling you what that standard of work needs to be. There is nobody pushing you to make it a little bit better and do a little bit more. It's usually all you. And because of this pressure, usually this GSD actually isn't just a high achiever anymore. They've become a tyrant. And you will speak to yourself in a way you would never dare converse with another living soul. Whether it's you say, "Oh, you should have known that, or that was a mistake, or you idiot, why did you do that?" The things that I know women say to themselves breaks my heart. This is the dark side of what is going on, of the other side of being a high achiever, and when you lean too much into that. 

The second most common characteristic of a GSD that I see, is this beautiful word "efficiency." With intellect, you pick things up fast. You know you can juggle a million things. You learn fast and you can get more done than most. So, this is about output. This is about what comes out of you. And there are so many things that you're holding in your head, that everyone looks at you and thinks, "Oh my gosh, I don't know how you do it." And yet you seem to pull it off. Almost like this duck on a pond, where it's all cool and calm under the surface. But yet, the dark side is what's going on with those feet of yours. And they are paddling like crazy. So the dark side of efficiency is some p words. Perfectionist, procrastinator, people-pleaser. And this all leads to some overthinking, when you struggle to say no, and you can't hold boundaries. Because the reason that you want to be efficient, and as you lean more into this, well, it's not just about getting more done. It's about doing it perfectly. 

This is where this high achiever and efficiency really play together. "Well, it's got to be perfect." "I need to be super prepared, I need to." And then, whenever you are a perfectionist, you also always procrastinate in some way, shape or form, because both are driven by fear. You don't want to say no to people, because you like to juggle a million things, and your identity starts to be built on this. So you can see here we've got this high achiever. And then we've got the second point around efficiency, with a very, very dark side. 

And again, many people are proud perfectionists. You know, it's a title, a badge of honour that they wear. I'm a get shit done person, and I'm a perfectionist too. But I'm gonna warn you, there is something coming that I want to share that is going to change everything. 

And then, lastly, another characteristic of these GSDs, is that they are externally driven. By that I mean that much of their confidence has been built outside in. They've been motivated by praise, whether that came from their parents to begin with, who said you know, "Well done on getting that mark, or that ribbon, or that test, or that prize." And that then manifests as we get older into titles, money, our house, our cars, wanting recognition from others, wanting to feel valued. Now, that in itself is fine. Who doesn't want money? Who doesn't want to be recognised by others? 

However, when this is what you rely on, there's a really dark side where you can't actually give any of this to yourself. You need others to give you the recognition that you want. This means you spend a lot of your time feeling undervalued. And they can never give you what you need, because they don't know what you need! And if they can give it to you, then they can also take it away. And so, even though you might have this external success, it usually feels empty when you're moving into the dark side. 

The external success is never enough. And what tends to happen is you're looking to others to give this recognition to you. You're looking to others to promote you. To tap you on the shoulder. And yet, it's all empty. And so you end up getting yourself in this spin where you tell yourself, the high achiever says, "Just wait until the kitchen's renovated, wait until you get that promotion, then you'll be better organised and then you'll be happy. So we live our life waiting "until." And the reality is: that day rarely comes and the emptiness grows and grows. 

And what we find with these three characteristics is that you're stuck in this cycle where you're looking to get praise for achieving. Then it doesn't come. It doesn't meet what you need. So you say, "That's all right, I'm a high achiever. I'll work harder, I'll take on more. I'll say yes, in the hope that it gets me recognised." Meanwhile, you just end up feeling a bit resentful. Then you beat yourself up when you can't do it all. Then you look for validation. Someone to say, “You're doing a good job.” So you lean in harder to do more. 

Can you see how this cycle just perpetuates? And in a healthy balance, being a high achiever, and being efficient, and being motivated by external rewards, it's not necessarily a bad thing. However, it's when we lean harder and harder into this cycle, that everything starts to unravel. Particularly in my experience. You start to see from your mid to late 30s, when kids start coming in, and the need to juggle extra things the mental load, the kids, the home, everything else, it becomes a straw that breaks the camel's back. And it tips this cycle very much into the dark side of all of these. And you know then, that you've hit a plateau. So some symptoms that you've hit a plateau, from where your GSD strategy of this identity, of how you're operating, is no longer working. 

So some key traits you're going to start to see is living in overwhelm, trapped in overthinking, being passed over for promotion, not actually being valued, being given feedback like, "You're not strategic enough." Living with resentment because you're doing everything for other people, giving everything to them. You're always feeling behind, while you do it. There's no time for you. And yet, you just do more of it in the hope that they'll recognise you, and they'll see you. And then they'll give you time for yourself, but you're not giving it to yourself. You see this crazy cycle, and ultimately the end result here, is burnout of some description. 

Now, you have had it hard-wired into your brain, literally into your brain circuitry, that this is the only way to be successful. And women come to me, and I'm a big advocate for making a transition away from being this type of worker, but they say, "Jo, this is my reputation. If I'm not a GSD, who am I? What value do I have?" And this is simply a lie your brain tells you in order to keep you stuck. So there's a very, very important reason, to not just avoid burnout, but why now is actually the time to stop being a GSD. And that thing, the reason, is two initials. And it's the latest buzzword that's everywhere, “AI.” 

Artificial intelligence can get stuff done way faster than you. I've been playing with it recently. There's an app that can create PowerPoint presentations. I have used it to create some new headshots. It automates tasks, it gives you inspiration for ideas, it can tweak your copy. What we're seeing now is the "Billy Cart" version of this. And so, the people might not necessarily replace your jobs, but the way you're going to show up, what you're doing, the value you're adding, is now going to be done in three seconds. And that PowerPoint presentation that you stayed up until midnight producing, what value does that have? 

But we all know that that's not your value, there's actually more that lies within. So the urgency of getting out of being a GSD, of not being a get-shit-done person, has just gone up a thousand times. And every month, there's 8,000 apps. Every month, all of this technology is coming out. It is going to be a real big threat, and not only the speed with which you're plateauing from a burnout perspective, but also the threat that technology plays to you, if you sit in this role. 

So what's the alternative, you might ask? How do I not be a GSD? How do I let that go? Well, the key here is to become a woman of influence. This is not someone who can get stuff done, but it's someone who can make things happen. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you don't still produce, that you don't deliver, that you don't achieve results. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that you make things happen by inspiring and leading others, by being an expert in your field, by not being afraid to challenge the status quo. By having healthy boundaries, by being invited into the room because they hope that you're available. Remembering that scarcity actually increases your influence. You delegate, you say no, you lead from this place of unshakable confidence. And, ultimately, a woman of influence, in my experience, tends to work less. 

She's working on what really matters. And she's back more in this positive spiral of fulfilling work, delegating, influencing, driving change, living her potential. And that is where everything starts to get better. So when your career is going to take off again, and I've had people who've learnt this toolkit from me about becoming a woman of influence, within a matter of weeks, months at most. People start commenting, "Huh, what's up with so-and-so, they're a bit different." Or bosses saying, "I don't know what you're doing, but you're showing up very differently." So when we put down the doing, the need to prove ourselves, we put down the tyrant of a high achiever. Then everything shifts for the better. 

"So how do I become a woman of influence?" I hear you asking. Well, let me share three tools that I have found to be really, really effective. Bear in mind, I do this with people over an eight week process, and it's a very well-developed process. But I want to give you, what I would consider some of the high-level tools, that you can implement. Albeit without all the other extra scaffolding, and support, that you would get if you were to come work with me directly. So, I'm going to give you a strategy for each of the three key themes of a GSD. So, the first one we were talking about was a high achiever. 

What we need to do here, in order to help you make this transition to become a woman of influence, is I want you to redefine the word "achievement." And by that I mean, if AI is now pumping out a lot of the work that you do, or at least supporting you and facilitating, you actually need a new skill. And the one thing that AI cannot do very well, and what the experts are having real trouble replicating, is creativity. AI is all about the questions you ask it, the prompts that you give it. It's all about the inputs. And when you're in GSD mode, when you're in that task-oriented, get it done, franticness, always behind, in being in fight and flight and having all that cortisol flooding your system, you're actually shutting down access to the creative part of your brain. It literally is inaccessible. So what you need to start doing is you need to foster this muscle of creativity and redefine achievement. Rather than it being about how much have you done, how many ticks have you got on that list, how many things have you added? In this mistaken belief that we're going to get through it all, and then we can rest, or then we'll feel successful. Instead, start saying, "How was I creative today?" And I want to ensure that you don't just think being creative means, you have to now get out a paintbrush, or start making pottery, or crafting, or crocheting. Yes, if you like that, wonderful. 

But being creative is simply a new way to look at the world. Most women who come to me say, "I don't have any hobbies anymore. I don't have any passions." "It's all buried under a pile of laundry that I left 10 years ago." But you can be creative in the most banal, obscure ways. I've recently been getting creative at how I can ask a 13 year old to hang up her towel after having a shower. Can you ask it in a rap song? Can you do a liturgical dance? There's different ways, and sometimes, focusing or choosing something that is very repetitive and habituated and going, "Hmm, what's a different way I could brush my teeth?" This is actually stretching your creativity muscle more. So it's the first piece that I want you to consider. So I want you to start focusing on creativity, knowing that this is a skill. Creativity and curiosity combined, that could future proof your career, and ensure you start becoming the woman of influence that you know you're born to be. 

The second piece, the second tool I want you to have in your toolkit, is around efficiency. We need to fix the dark side. And the one piece, of when you lean into efficiency, that can be the most toxic and the most dangerous to all elements of your life, is the perfectionist. I want you to adopt a mantra that every single person with me leaves tattooed on their forehead. And that is that: "Done is better than perfect." I'm gonna say that again. "Done is better than perfect." This is when you're looking at something and your brain's saying, "No, no, no, it's not good enough." "You need to check it again." "It's not left aligned." "Maybe those boxes should be triangles, and maybe they should be outlined, and they should be orange and not blue." And you are fixing, and you're faffing around. You look at that work and you say, "You know what? Done is better than perfect." You take a deep breath and you hit send, or save, or exit, and you move on to the next thing. I guarantee you, that if you're a GSD, your 90% is actually 150% for everybody else. 

I always have people push back on this comment to me and say, "But Jo, I've got a board presentation, and I've got something that's going out to 10,000 people." Yeah, sure, check that one for typos. But I promise you: a message to your team, an email to your boss, a summary of that last conversation that you had, "Done is better than perfect." This thing, this mantra, can be implemented 95% of the time. And that is where the efficiency gains are. To do more, to churn through more, and to get it out in a way where you haven't overthought it. You haven't suffered over it. 

And when you say, "Done is better than perfect", you're actually celebrating yourself. And this is this beautiful skill of compassion. It's being kind to yourself. Instead of saying, "It's not good enough." "You should have known this." "You should have known that." You've gone, "Done is better than perfect.' "Off we go. Here's my messy first draft, you can improve upon it." "Here's my early thoughts, off we go." There's frames you can use around work that you send that really fosters this "Done is better than perfect" attitude. So redefine achievement, and embrace "Done is better than perfect" are the two strategies that I want you to employ. And these become really, really exciting, when you blend them with the third piece. And this is, I want you to put yourself in your 90 year old self shoes. Close your eyes for a minute, and think. 

When you're sitting on your rocking chair, or depending on your health, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at 90, because who knows what we could be capable of? What are your memories? What are the moments that you reflect on and think, "Yes, like that was a moment. That is a memory." Something that makes you smile. And I'd guess that, what those memories are, and I think already to all the memories I've accumulated, it's witnessing your child hit a milestone. It's snuggles on the couch under a blanket. Maybe it's giggling around the dinner table. It's rarely, and there might be some big goals in there, the time you bought a house. But most of the time, the things that actually bring us joy, and make us feel really good, are the small things that matter. 

What I want you to start doing, by putting yourself in your 90 year old self shoes, is to shift the focus away from the big things. Away from the material pieces, and rewire your brain for those feel good moments that we have in everyday life. Because you will find that, if you can start a hard wiring and celebrating and really noticing those moments, you're going to stop waiting until XYZ happens to be happy. Because you realise, that actually, everything I have to be happy is right in front of me. You won't feel you have to wait until you renovate your kitchen to have that beautiful new kitchen bench, for it to be clean, to feel calm. Say, "You know what? Actually, right now, I'm sitting here looking at the sky. It's a beautiful sunny day, I can see a tree. I'm going to become happy, right now, regardless of how my current kitchen bench does or doesn't look." So, you rewire your brain. I'm talking here about intentionally wiring and firing different brain circuitry. 

Everybody always says, when they get to the end, at whatever age, that comes, willing, it's a very, very long time away for all of us, that it was those little moments that were priceless. And I'm not saying don't chase, you know material goods, and worldly experiences, and nice things. But know that they're gonna give you just as much of a dopamine hit, when you buy a house, as to when your kid scores their first gold at soccer. And we don't count equally. So the more you can step into the space, and get yourself in this beautiful cycle of, "How can I be creative?" "Done is gonna be better than perfect." "And then let me celebrate the small things." This is gonna start stepping you towards being a woman of influence. This is going to help you start saying no, when building boundaries, and living life differently, because that's ultimately what we want. 

If being a GSD is serving you right now, and you're not burnt out, and you're not overwhelmed. Well, happy days, keep going. But know that at some point in time, all the women who come to me, that there is a shift that has to be made. I don't want you to hit the plateau that I see so often. 

Where you can't get promoted any further because of your way of operating. The patterns that you have are not sustainable. 

And most women who come to me know this. You can see that it's like watching a train crash. You know that it's not working. But you don't know another way. So today, I invite you to implement these strategies, to start experimenting with creativity. Ditch your perfectionist, and know that done is better than perfect. Focus on the little things, and that is going to help you start making that trend, that transition. One little mini creative, "Done is better than perfect", celebration at a time. Happy playing, and I'll see you next time. 

OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.

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