Productivity & Time Management

Episode #350 – Becoming Fluent in Delegation: Insights from Language Immersion

July 9, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
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Today, we’re taking delegation to a whole new level and comparing it to language immersion for a fresh perspective. Imagine mastering delegation the way you learn a new language—because that’s exactly what we’re discussing.

Cherylanne shares stories from her own experiences and insights from powerhouse women like you who’ve embraced this approach. Whether you’re gearing up for a vacation or simply seeking more balance in your jam-packed life, this episode will inspire you to hand off tasks with a lot more confidence so you can get time back to repurpose for whatever you want.

Ready to elevate your leadership game and find more room to shine? Let’s get into it!

Show Highlights:

  • The idea of delegation and language immersion. 01:30
  • What is the best way to learn a language? 02:46
  • Do you know the relaxing feeling of seeing an empty inbox? 06:46
  • Discover this amazing concept called inverse summer. 07:06
  • Learn where you need to delegate in your life. 10:03
  • Are you someone who hates to bother other people? 11:58
  • How being brave can help you. 13:29
  • The way to push past both sides of resistance. 15:27

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As I sit down to record today’s episode, I have to admit, I’m shaking my head thinking, how are we at episode 350? Every time we cross one of these milestones, it makes me smile as I think back to all those years ago when I sat down behind a microphone for the first time to record episode 1. Now 350 episodes, y’all. This is something that you make possible by pressing play every week, discovering the show when friends share it with you, and then coming back to listen again and again. So, I just want to say thank you today, at this mini milestone here at episode 350, before we dig into today’s content.

Today, we’re going to talk about delegation, this idea of becoming fluent in delegation. My insight for today is that if you really want to become good at delegation, truly fluent, someone who delegates regularly and really knows how to get results through others, we may need to take a page out of the Language Immersion Playbook. Language immersion, if you want a refresher, is when you learn a language by throwing yourself into the proverbial pond and being forced to swim. It’s hearing the foreign language, often an audio version like listening to people speak it, and then muddling your way through learning to speak it. It’s a way to force the issue, and there’s no safety net. When you go into language immersion, it’s a sink-or-swim situation. You might be taking classes in a language that is not your native one, or you might have to navigate road signs or navigational signs, learning how to get around a city where people do not speak your language. That’s the idea of language immersion. The research is clear: it is the best way to learn a language, essentially the gold standard.

We do this increasingly with young people, whether they are in high school, going on an extended trip to a country that speaks the language they’re learning, or at university, going on a study abroad program where they’re going to speak the language for an extended period. Confidence grows, and this sink-or-swim situation helps accelerate the learning curve. It turns out, at least in my observation, that this is also true when it comes to delegation. Creating an immersion experience with the removal of the safety net changes behavior quickly and produces results faster than we might otherwise achieve.

This came to mind for me because I am getting ready to go on vacation. As I’m recording this episode, I’m still a few weeks out from leaving on vacation. By the time this airs, I still don’t think I will have left, but I’ll be getting close. As I’m preparing to go on a bigger trip, one where we’re going to be out of the country, it will be a little more difficult, given the time difference, to stay in touch with everyone on my team. I’m really starting to think about what I am going to do to make sure that everybody within the Brilliant Balance team is prepared to keep things moving. And I am also thinking about how to keep things on track at home, just like I’m sure you are. What are we going to do with the dog? Who’s going to feed the cats? How am I going to make sure I don’t come home to pots of dead flowers in my yard? Who’s going to mow the lawn during the roughly two weeks that we will be out of town?

Thinking about how to keep things moving in my absence got me thinking about this. I was reminded of the last time we did a really big trip as a family, which was five years ago in 2019. We took a little less than two weeks and did a European vacation, hitting the highlights of Italy. We went to Rome, Paris, and London on that trip. We really only hit three cities, maybe a little bit outside of those cities. But I had three young children at the time, and I knew I wanted to be away from my company and really able to focus on my time with them. What we did at that time was set up a once-a-day briefing with a key team member who was left in charge to make any decisions she possibly could, knowing that she would only elevate the critical few to me in my absence. It turned out to be close to zero times that she had to reach out, which surprised everyone, including me.

I learned during that trip that saying I am only going to be confronted with decisions that you are so nervous about making that you feel like you have to pull me in was a game-changer. I also thought about some recent experiences with women I know, either as clients or in my personal life, that mimicked this idea of immersion. I have a client, Becky, who went to Japan this summer to visit her son. She took her daughter and husband with her. One of the things she had to do, which she had not done before, was give up control of her email. She runs a substantial real estate brokerage and practice, and if you know anything about real estate, you know there are a tremendous number of communications that happen in any given day. She was able to put people in charge of her email to do triage. When she came back, she had an empty inbox, and it was the most relaxed I had seen her, thinking like, wow, this really opens up possibilities. She might not have done that if it hadn’t been a necessity during her absence for a couple of weeks.

Another client, Brittany, structured what I refer to as an inverse summer. We started calling it an inverse week. The goal is five days out of the office and two days in, the opposite of a standard workweek, to spend more time with her young children. She has very young children, and this allowed her to get the updates from her team down to something more like once a day. Can I stop being in the fray, back and forth, back and forth, and really have someone on the team who consolidates my updates? Is it perfect? No. But is it a goal to shoot for? Are we moving in the direction of having fewer engagements and being able to steer a little bit from a distance as a business owner? In both of their cases, they are business owners, and we’re able to do that.

My sister-in-law, Julie, took a summer sabbatical last summer. She is not an entrepreneur; she works for an organization in a very senior role. Her company offers a sabbatical, and she took an extended period off, I think it was two full months, did several trips during that time, including one to Indonesia for several weeks, and learned that her junior team members would step up to handle things they may never have stepped into had she been available, had she been regularly in meetings and available for phone calls.

What all these examples have in common is this idea of immersion, this sink-or-swim experience, burning the boats, where there’s no other option but for people to step up. This is where we learn our own version of the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, necessity is the mother of the adoption curve. We get people to change their behavior when there is no other choice. My question for you in today’s episode is: where in your life do you either know that you need to delegate, or do you feel like you possibly could delegate? It could be at home, it could be at work; either of those arenas could be full of opportunities to delegate. But you aren’t doing it because of one of three things. Do any of these resonate with you?

If you really know that you would benefit from letting go of more of your daily tasks but aren’t doing it, is it because, number one, you really like control? I called myself out on this earlier in this episode that I like to control a whole bunch. I have very specific ways I like things to be done. I tend to weigh in on things, I have feedback about them, and it can be a real challenge to realize that there is more than one way to get to an outcome. If you really like control, that can be a reason you are not delegating, not giving up a task to someone else who could handle it. The second reason you might not be delegating is you think it will take too much time. You’re telling yourself, “Oh my God, it’s faster to just do this myself. It’s going to take so long to explain how I need it done or to equip them and give them access to the systems or the tools.” Or, “It’s going to take so long to teach somebody how to do this thing that you do.” That is a significant, frequent reason I hear for why we can’t let go of things. It’s going to take too long to teach somebody else how to do it.

The third reason you might not be delegating is that you just don’t want to bother the person. You think you’re going to be such a bother, it’s going to be such an inconvenience or an imposition if you ask someone to take on a task that you are currently doing. Those are the three biggest barriers I see to delegation, and they can absolutely get in our way: our need for control, or at least our desire or attachment to control; this false belief that it will take too much time because we’re so focused on the first time; and the third one, we are so hung up on being nice and not inconveniencing anyone that we don’t even give them a chance to say, “Hey, I could probably do that. I have the capacity and the talent to handle that.”

Those are the three biggest barriers to embracing the idea of delegation. Honestly, on the other side of the coin, I think there are three reasons people don’t pick up or catch what we toss to them. When we finally get brave enough to delegate, sometimes the other person doesn’t want to do it. There’s resistance to making it stick. If I think about those big three, the reasons people don’t readily

 pick up tasks we delegate, the first is they’re afraid they will do it wrong or that they’ll look bad. This usually results in asking 10,000 questions. If you are trying to delegate and you’re finding a lot of questions coming back to you, what might be at play is the person’s fear that they will mess it up, do it wrong, or make you look bad. The second reason is the fear of rework. They think they’ll get a lot of feedback and have to do the whole thing over again, so they ask more questions to try to avoid that. The third reason is habit or inertia. The way we’ve always done it is that a particular person handles this thing. It’s never occurred to them to do it; it might be presumptuous.

When there’s a big enough “why,” we push past both sides of the resistance. We push past our own resistance as the person who can delegate, and the receiver pushes past their resistance because both parties have to. It creates a level of necessity and raises the stakes. If you want to move the needle on getting things off your plate and embracing delegation, taking a page out of the language immersion playbook can help. What that looks like is creating a situation where there’s no turning back. It becomes necessary for you to let go and for the person to receive and work through their discomfort.

Is it perfect every time? Absolutely not. I’m sure those of you who adopt this will get to the end and say, “OK, there were a few things that did not go perfectly.” But I’m willing to bet that most of the things you let go of and that someone on your team picks up will be done at an acceptable standard, maybe even better than you could have done yourself. Particularly this summer, if you have an opportunity to create one of these environments where there is no option, you know you’re going to be off the grid for a little while, not available due to time zones or travel schedules, and you can test the waters on what it looks like to dial up the level of work you’re willing to delegate, you might be surprised at how you can get that to stick after the initial experiment. It certainly was my experience five years ago when I tried this kind of thing for the first time. It has been the experience of all three of those women I referenced earlier, and I hope it will be your experience as well.

Take these ideas, implement them, give them a shot, and see how they work for you. Share this episode with someone else who might benefit from a little inspiration and encouragement to take this approach in their own life. Share the episode with them so they can benefit as well. Please let me know what you think. If you try this and have results and are shocked by how much time you’ve been able to create, I would love to hear from you. You can DM me on Instagram at C School Nikki. That’s a really easy way to be in touch. You can also go to the website,, use the contact us form, and let me know. If you get my emails, you can just reply to one of those. Whatever works for you. But I would love to hear from you if you give this a shot and have exceptional results with it.

That is all for today, my friends. Until next time, let’s be brilliant.

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