Book Review: Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu

Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler

June 25, 2017

If you enjoyed Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, you’ll want Drop the Ball on your summer reading list. Tiffany Dufu pulls you in with a relatable and witty story of her struggle as a working, new mother who realizes the deck is stacked against her. Societal expectations took their toll, but the author recounts her realization that she may also be stacking the deck against herself.

Drop the Ball takes you through Dufu’s personal struggles and epiphanies that she could not juggle all of the balls—the balls being metaphors for her responsibilities—nor did she have to. This book isn’t solely for millennials, or solely for women; this book is for anyone who is attempting to enter, or re-enter, the workforce and balance a social life, family, and/or volunteer obligations. Or, for anyone who wants to better understand those who are.

Dufu shares lessons we could all take some notes from. We’ve pulled a few of our favorites below.

Toss a Ball to Your All-In Partner

If you’re in a relationship, Dufu advises you to work together with your all-in partner, vocalizing your wants and needs. She points out that when the work is imbalanced, silent unhappiness will not do anyone justice. Everyone has their limit. Don’t find yours at the end of your rope. Set clear expectations between you and your partner as to who does what, and make a fair assessment.

In hopes to better address each other’s needs, the author and her partner created an excel list of all of their duties to determine who should be in charge of certain tasks.

Trust that your partner is competent enough to handle anything that you usually take care of. Share the workload and eventually you’ll enjoy the moment you drop the ball and don’t even care.

“The first step to Dropping the Ball is getting over the fear of letting that ball roll all over the floor.”

Optimize Your Time

Dufu frequently references the phrase ‘highest and best use of your time.’ To optimize your time, you must first evaluate what is most important to you. Is it really important to you that your house is spotless, or is it more important that you are active in your community or in your children’s lives?

Evaluating your overall goals can help you to waste less time on dusting and, instead, spend more time with your kids. This evaluation will also help you understand why those to-do items on your list that never get done still remain on your list. (Hint: It’s because they really aren’t that important to you.) So just take them off your list already!

Don’t Just Meet Your Goals

“Smart people who can meet goals are a dime a dozen, and most of them are languishing in middle management.”

The author explains that women shouldn’t just strive to be a part of middle management. Women should drop their metaphorical ball to reach for more. Anyone striving to reach the ‘proverbial C-suite’ must be certain about what matters most to them.

Reaching a work-life balance between a career and a family is a strong motivator for a middle management job, but this is not where women reach equality. Dufu further explains her four “Go-Tos” that helped her to advance above middle management. Her practices are:

  • Go to exercise
  • Go to lunch
  • Go to events
  • Go to sleep

Our biggest takeaway was #3: Go to events. Standing out in the workplace requires women to speak up and be heard.

Exercising, lunch, and sleep are all important in their own right. These will help you balance your work-life ratio, which will give you the energy you need to meet your ultimate goals.

Meeting goals make you dependable, not indispensable. Be indispensable. Be heard.

Dufu’s book is full of awe-inspiring motivation, all while making you laugh about her oh-so relatable fail moments. We definitely recommend you give it a try! You can find it on Amazon here. What did you think about Drop the Ball?

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