clean before cleaning?


lisa fabrega


Growing up in Panamá, both my parents worked, so they required some help in the housekeeping department while juggling careers, three children and a country under the constant turmoil of a dictatorship. While we all pitched in to keep the surface level of the house clean, once a week a housekeeping crew did a deeper clean.

Deep clean days were my least favorite. My mother woke us up extra early to frantically clean before the housekeeper arrived. “Whyyyy do we have to do this? Isn’t it going to get cleaned anyway?” we’d whine. 

When I look back on it now, I think she cleaned first so the cleaning crew could focus on the deeper cleaning, instead of getting sidetracked on the surface level cleaning. She assumed they wouldn’t do it unless she controlled the situation by cleaning first. I never understood why she didn’t just ask them directly to focus on a deep clean, instead of doing all those acrobatics.

Until I did the same thing a few years ago when my housekeeper offered to do my laundry on the days she comes to clean. What I did next gave me deeper insight into one of the biggest reasons so many people I work with struggle with the capacity to reach their biggest goals.

I said yes… but then told her she didn’t have to put the clothes away–I could do that. 

Except with my ADHD and running a constantly growing business, you know what happened? 

The clothes sat on a chair in my bedroom until the next week, not put away in their respective drawers. This went on for months, until I finally acquiesced to my housekeeper’s requests to just let her put the darn clothes away already.

Why was I doing this?! 

I assumed she wouldn’t know how I like my drawers organized and would mess my “organizational system” up by putting clothes away in the wrong place. (Even though I could have just shown her how I like things to be put away.)

I also felt a little guilty letting her do my laundry, even though she was the one who offered it up in the first place. A part of me felt like “I should be able to do this on my own.”  Except it wasn’t the best use of my time and energy, when I could be focusing on tasks in my business or even in my life that would bring a much higher rate of return whether it be making more money or enjoying more time with my friends family.

You do this too, you know…

Maybe you’re a parent and you put undue pressure on yourself to be able to juggle childcare, career and everything else in life without ANY help. And you feel like a failure when you can’t manage it all perfectly like Instagram influencers do. But we all know Instagram is often a half-truth.

A client recently admitted on a call she feels shame over needing “so much support.” She has two mentors (including me) and she realized she had this unspoken belief that truly successful people get to a point where they “don’t need mentors.” She kept waiting for that moment when she wouldn’t need that support and felt like a failure and “not successful” because she still had mentors.

But if you look at the world’s most successful people, you’ll notice they have one thing in common. Hint: it’s NOT that they’re superhuman geniuses that can do everything by themselves. In fact, its something else entirely.

They have TONS of support and several mentors. I’ve been in business almost 12 years now and have never been without at least two mentors in my corner. Currently I have four mentors, each focused on an area of my life I want to improve. I credit the huge success of my business and career largely to the fact that I’ve never been without mentorship. All my colleagues who didn’t want to invest in mentors were always trailing behind me in growth.

It’s why I’ve always felt some kind of way over the term “self-made millionaire”. That’s a lie. Entire teams create millionaire companies and people. 

When I’m in my California home, I’m only five minutes away from Oprah. I drive by her house every day.  Several times a week there are vans of cleaning, gardening and catering crews going in and out of the gates to her estate. She even told Trevor Noah on his show she has someone fold the corners of her toilet paper every time she goes to the bathroom. Oprah wasn’t embarrassed at all sharing all the support she has. Because she knows for her to do what she does best, she needs a village of support. 

I read an article recently that described the habits of millionaires & billionaires. Know what they invest most of their time, money and energy in? 

Support. The first form of support they invest in is personal development and capacity coaches like me. I know this first hand because I get hired by many of them and they stay clients for years. They’re often the clients most grateful and appreciative of the work we do together. 

Show me a wealthy person and I’ll show you someone who values personal development and support. Show me someone not yet truly wealthy and they’re obsessed with and invest only in “business coaches” and “business strategies” and think success means doing it all on their own. 

You can’t build a mansion on top of a flimsy, cardboard foundation. Nor can you build it on top of a solitary brick. It takes a village of “bricks” aka support networks and systems to lift you up to every next level of your life and work. 

This is also known as Structural Capacity™ in the work that I do with my clients. And deficits in your Structural Capacity are often what cause the biggest, hidden leaks in your ability to get to where you want to go in your career, your business or your life. 

There are tasks and things you should be outsourcing, but you don’t because you feel you “should be able to do it.” Every time you do this you create an energy leak. 

Like a client I worked with recently whose partner adopted a dog, but she did ALL the work. In the middle of her work day she was constantly interrupted by taking the dog out for walks, feeding him, training and correcting him. And she also did most of the cleaning and then nagged her husband to complete his chores because he wouldn’t do them unless she nagged. 

By the time she found me, she was so burned out she hadn’t been able to generate income in her new coaching business for over two months. She hadn’t posted on her business’ social media account that entire time either. After a few sessions with me she realized why she was so exhausted. And to her shock it wasn’t that she “didn’t know how to market properly” or “wasn’t a good business owner”. 

The real reason for her exhaustion and lack of income in her second business was that she thought she had to somehow be able to do all she was doing at home, for her partner etc… AND run a business without any support. 

Because she had this belief that “successful people” can do it all without needing help. She thought her capacity issue was that she coudln’t do it all. Her real capacity issue was that she thought she had to do it all by herself!

You can’t achieve your goals if your life is a kaleidoscope of energy leaks. In the Capacity Shift™ program, we talk a lot about low leverage tasks (tasks that take a lot of time to complete but have little return) vs. high leverage tasks (tasks that take minimum effort and maximum return). Most people I work with, including you, are doing 90% low leverage tasks and only 10% high leverage. And then they wonder why they aren’t getting to where they want to be.

And yes, I’ve seen this issue both in eight figure CEOs I support AND in new business owners. The pattern is the same, regardless of what you earn. Capacity issues affect EVERYONE.

If you’re wasting your time on low leverage tasks, like offering to fold the laundry for the cleaning person who wants to do it, still cleaning up after your grown spouse, arguing with that client you should just fire already or always answering that call from your emotionally volatile friend in the middle of your work day… then you have a Structural Capacity issue. 
Today I’m challenging you to outsource some things. And if you don’t know WHAT you need to outsource or how, or you want to stop feeling too afraid to outsource these things, you should join us in Capacity Shift™, where we work on Structural Capacity every single month.