Adaptations > Maladaptations

February 19th, 2023

Adaptations > Maladaptations

Recent Harvard Business School research reveals five Maladaptations most women have adopted to rise in corporate America. Harvard chose to call these behaviors “Maladaptations” because they see them as harmful adaptations rather than positive, helpful modifications or coping strategies.

Each one on its own is detrimental to women’s mental and physical well-being, but unfortunately, Harvard found that most women adopt many of these behaviors, which further compounds their impact.

  • Maladaption 1               I need to be perfect.
  • Maladaptation 2           I need to fit in to rise.
  • Maladaptation 3           I need to sacrifice to succeed.
  • Maladaptation 4           I need to do it alone.
  • Maladaptation 5           Success means having it all.

Obviously, this inspired FIERCE to curate our own list of real-life Adaptations that are empowering, impactful and proven.  Take a minute and think about a recent hour, day or week where you practiced a Maladaptation and how that same time period would have gone if you practiced a FIERCE Adaptation instead.

  • Adaptation 1                  I need to have empathy for myself and others.
  • Adaptation 2                  I need to be unapologetic for being myself. 
  • Adaptation 3                  I need to celebrate everyday wins with family and friends.
  • Adaptation 4                  I need to know what I am good at and ask for help with the rest.
  • Adaptation 5                  I need to define success on my terms.

For example, I easily fall into Maladaptation 4 – I need to do it alone.  I say to myself, I’ll get it done faster that way.  I’ll be able to do the next thing more quickly.  That mindset ignores many realities including:  who says someone else can’t do it better, what could I be doing instead of doing everything by myself? 

We recently hired an amazing talent to help us with our multimedia content and tools.  She is a dynamo who is absolutely better than me at many things and has already opened my eyes to better ways of growing our FIERCE family.  I recognize I was letting a Maladaptation slow me down when I thought it was speeding me up.  Now, consider that the MAJORITY of women in the world practice one or more of these Maladaptations.  What an inefficient and ineffective way to structure our professional lives.  We are letting Maladaptations hold us back.

What to do?  First step is to acknowledge what you are doing, when, why and where.  Second, don’t try and fix everything at once.  Remember Adaptation 2, and work on redefining your thinking Maladaptation by Maladaptation.