Embracing Female Ambition by Ending Burnout Culture

woman overcoming hurdles

Photo Credit: Mita Stock Images/Shutterstock

By Queirra Fenderson, Founder and Professional Certified Coach of The Ambition Studio

For the first 10 years of my professional career, I reminded myself daily that I was a triple minority. Young. Black. Female. I was a triple minority, so expect to have three hurdles to jump just to start the race. Expect to have your words questioned, your expertise doubted, and your power undervalued because society sees you as less than. Expect to put in three times the effort to get to everyone’s par but hold firm to your goal — to become a marketing director by your 30th birthday.

Yes, it was ambitious, but so was I, and by 29 years old, I had checked it off of my list.

I was the youngest marketing director in my company and I was climbing the corporate ladder like a pro. I was also a pro at running from job to job, blaming my employer for my stress, anxiety, and loneliness that came from being a high-achiever. I told myself that, sometimes, you have to sacrifice in order to succeed.

There’s power in being able to take off the superwoman cape and get supported with some of your deepest struggles.

It wasn’t until I got fired from my dream job that it hit me: Not only were my accomplishments not keeping me safe, but they were also burning me out.

Put the words “ambitious” and “woman” in the same sentence and you’re sure to turn heads, but not for the reasons you may think.

Fifty-one percent of men are more likely to call themselves ambitious compared to 38% of women. With women-owned businesses and leaders on the rise, how can we create a healthier relationship to our high-achieving drive?

That’s the problem I set out to solve when I launched The Ambition Studio, a boutique coaching firm on a mission to end the burnout epidemic among female executives and entrepreneurs.

While there are many ways to break free from burnout, our clients usually need to start by going through S.P.A.: Surrender, Permission, and Action.

Surrender

Most high-achievers suffer from perfectionism as a form of control. Yet there are only three things we actually control in life: our perspective, our actions, and our words.

When we learn to focus on staying in control of the things we can control, we can then surrender to the things we cannot. Surrendering allows space for those serendipitous moments to happen on our behalf without exerting additional effort that will burn us out.

Permission

Being a high-achiever can often feel lonely when you’re the smartest person in the room — or so you think.

Consider that there’s power in being able to take off the superwoman cape and get supported with some of your deepest struggles. What will you stop doing? What will you ask for help with? How will you begin to reward yourself?

Action

Another common symptom of ambition burnout is analysis paralysis or overthinking. Practice taking more intuitive actions by listening to your gut instincts. Check in with yourself before automatically saying yes. Does this decision infringe on my boundaries? Will this make me happy in the long run? Does this align with my values?

Bottom line: Being a high-achiever (and having them on your team) is an asset when cultivated with the right leadership style. If you’re looking for a new way to exceed your expectations without suffering in silence, start by encouraging more intuitive decisions while embracing your ambition.


Queirra Fenderson, Founder and Professional Certified Coach of The Ambition Studio, helps ambitious women leaders build sustainable businesses — without the burnout.

This post is part of a month-long January CircleAround series in which we asked writers to explore the topic "What Comes Next?" Now that we’ve (thankfully) turned the corner on 2020, what can we expect from 2021? Business-wise and family-wise, mentally and spiritually. To see all the posts in the series, visit here. And if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to info@circlaround.com or post on our "2021 Vibes Wall."


CircleAround is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves adult women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

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