As many kids return to virtual or in-person school today, parents face new rhythms once again in work and home life.

The best advice I can offer in the midst of these challenging times is:

Optimize vs. Maximize

Maximizing looks like pushing to the maximum. It’s striving to be the best. It’s excelling and sustaining excellence. It can look like pushing past limits despite the costs.

Many hard-driving leaders learn to maximize throughout their careers and lives. They get rewarded for maximizing by companies that value productivity over all else. Maximization can become the standard by which leaders live their lives without realizing there is another choice.

By contrast, optimizing looks like making sure all of the parts are working together to create a cohesive whole. It means letting some things slide at least temporarily while other things take precedence for now. Sometimes optimizing means lowering our own maximization standards.

Optimization also looks like setting boundaries. Making self-care non-negotiable.

I first started to embrace optimization vs. maximization as a new working mom thirteen years ago when our first child was born. It’s a lesson I’m revisiting today too.

Are you willing to stop maximizing and start optimizing?

Is your organization ready for a change?

Stephanie Blackburn Freeth is the creator of The Strategy Tango.


The Strategy Tango is designed to move through seven tried and true planning steps while also accommodating the unique needs of your organization in each moment.


The Strategy Tango process is built upon a foundation of collaboration, candor, and focus.

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