Should I Put Out This Fire?

fire A whole world seems to have opened up before me since I started writing and teaching about HyperCompetence. The response from our community has been inspiring. It seems I’ve touched a nerve with a tribe of overdoing, overgiving, overtired women and their colleagues and loved ones.

As I shared on my tele-teaching and community dialogue, this fall I am dedicating my coaching practice to facilitating recovery from HyperCompetence. This means I will be continuing to write, teach, and speak on the topic as well as reflect on, triage, and strategize about it with my private clients.

As always, my work starts at home, both literally and metaphorically. As I spend this summer growing my business, planning my son’s bar mitzvah celebrations, helping my kids with their substantial summer assignments, transporting them to their various activities, researching and handling various medical and legal matters, etc. (Oh yeah! Plus trying to take care of myself!) I find myself repeatedly muttering under my breath “I can’t do all the jobs. I can’t do my jobs plus yours too. It’s too much.”

Questions about what I must do, what I would like to do, and what I can let go provide potential for round-the-clock inquiry.  Should I put out this fire? How about that one? Maybe the fire provides some value?


For example, just now I walked into the kitchen to heat up my lunch and noticed that the housecleaners (who left our house a short while ago) didn’t clean the microwave. Cleaning the microwave is their job, not mine. They usually do it every time. Not sure why they didn’t do it today. Grrr. Will anyone die because this job wasn’t done? No. Ate my lunch. Back to work.

At another moment, one in which I was already feeling overwhelm and fear, that little microwave incident might have sent me into a loud rant and/or a furious scrubbing frenzy. Fortunately, this time I was able to grasp that my response – the amount of energy I devote to someone else’s shortcoming – is fully my choice.

All this internal and external dialogue has raised multiple new questions for me. How can we tell for sure if we’re HyperCompetent? Are there different types of this phenomenon? Different degrees? What’s the difference between HyperCompetent and overachieving? What about workaholism? What are some other causes or triggers of HyperCompetence?

What have you noticed since you began contemplating this new concept? Do you feel more or less stuck than you did before you became aware in this way?  What questions has it raised for you? What else would you like us to explore as we dive deeper into this topic? Please share in the comments below.