Under vs Over Functioning – How to Find Your Balance & Stay Grounded In Your Greatness

Hey, fellow high performer. It’s been a bit of a struggle with our high expectations, perfectionistic tendencies and quest for quality. We continually strive to be a better leader, person, mom or dad, son or daughter, sister or brother. What’s wrong with that, right?

Anyone else here finding it exhausting, particularly these days?

Here’s a term I picked up from a Brene Brown podcast that I’ve shared with a number of coaching clients who have found it super helpful: under versus over-functioning

What is Under versus Over Functioning

Most of the people I coach and speak for fall on the over-functioning side of the continuum. I’m right there along with them. We take so much responsibility for the performance of people who report to us, we take to heart a projects’ performance, we are the organizers (even if it’s not initially we take it on if it’s not getting done), that do more than our share, we don’t say no often, we jump in, we’ve been known to take over, we struggle to delegate despite being great mentors, and may take it back quickly when we do hand it over.

Sound like you? You may be owning more responsibility than you need to.

visible leadersOn the opposite side of that continuum is under-functioning. You know you lean more toward this side if you pull back when someone is ready to jump in, you may lose your voice to someone who has strong opinions, you suffer from strain on the shadows. You pull back when feeling overwhelmed, you don’t advocate for what you need, your talents are the best-kept secret, you appease other people’s wants and needs. We may think, “You know what? They need the win, they define their identity this way, they can do it. That’s fine.”

So in the over and under-functioning spectrum, that must mean there is a center point: functioning.

Functioning is taking 100% responsibility for what you can control, what you can contribute, and being okay with yes as well as no. When you’re sitting halfway between over and under-functioning, you know perfection is an unhealthy and unrealistic goal. You strive to make things definable. You know what’s yours and what’s others’ responsibility, and rather than take over or let others take control, you strive to stay grounded and not easily swayed. You’re open, collaborative, and committed, and part of that is seeking to understand where your contribution needs to be.

social mediaIt’s that middle ground, functioning, we are aiming for. Imagine how helpful that would be right now, in the midst of the biggest health crisis of our generation? Have you spent time thinking, expressing opinions, and getting upset about things outside of your circle of influence (when in over-functioning mode)? Have you felt disheartened about how little you can do, enjoy, missing out on (when in under-functioning mode)?

To be clear, this is not something we “diagnose” or label in ourselves or others. It’s a framework to use as a gauge to find our more resourceful way to think, contribute, and love.

The closer we are to that middle ground, the more likely we will access resources, seek help, practice self-care, produce, clarify our identity, and contribute the best of what we have.

And always remember, You Are Already Greatness!

Here are a few more resources about finding that functioning balance:

Nurses Week Resiliency RebootPS. – For those of you in healthcare, a great ‘functioning’ place is for you to celebrate nurses this year is with some help! The Nurses Week Resiliency Reboot experience allows you to recognize and celebrate your nurses while handing over the heavy lifting to us. My speaking colleague, Stephane Staples, my event professional and speaker agent Tami Adams, and I have put together a dynamic four-day program with all the events, communications and promotions you’ll need to have a nursing week to remember, without the days of planning meetings, hours of sourcing speakers, and unaffordable price tag. Now THAT is functional recognition!

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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