Mitigate & Delegate

Today saw the first day of the general election in India. Yes the first day. Over 700 million Indians are eligible to vote which means the polls will be open one day a week for five weeks and then there is all that counting. It is mind boggling to me how something of this magnitude can be administered. Who are the people who have the patience and attention to detail to handle something of this size?

On a much smaller scale I received a note today requesting me to update a few details for an organization to which I belong, the information would help the sender update a county database. The email that I received did temporarily stop me in my tracks, and I do believe my palms became just a little bit clammy, as in that second I really couldn’t think of a worse job. Really give me some public toilets to clean over updating a large database, but I have to tell you that the sender of the email and person in charge of this task is very detailed orientated, dedicated, and the perfect person for the job. They will take it in their stride and get it done with little fuss.

The fact is we can’t be good at everything, it is just not possible. When I ask people what is getting in their way, often they will tell me that there is just a deficit of interest or skill, and you know what, that is OK, once you are aware of that you have options. Firstly, just because you ‘can’ doesn’t always mean you ‘should’ which is a whole other topic around the cost of doing things that zap your energy when it would be wiser to spend that energy on something more productive/contributing toward your goals. Secondly, you can choose to learn the skill you lack but I would quickly add that you probably only want to learn said skill if you are really interested in it, else it will bore you to tears and still you won’t achieve what you set out to do.

Thirdly, you could delegate! Yep, we often believe that we need to do everything, but that just isn’t the case. For example if you really can’t keep on top of your paperwork ask someone who has a strength in organizing paperwork to do it for you, really it is that simple. We sometimes get blinded with the ‘but I should be able to’… which is admirable, but are you able? If you continue to avoid something, or continue to let something make you really miserable, delegate. Get it off your list and open yourself up for tasks that will utilize your true strengths. I also often hear that folks feel that it is a waste of money to pay someone else to ‘do what I should be able to do’ – again, a waste of money IF you really ARE going to get on with it, but be realistic with yourself, wouldn’t it be better to feel ‘lighter’ by having the task you get stuck with completed by someone who can do it easily? And if that person does have a strength in a complimentary area to yours, you may be in a position to barter so it doesn’t cost money at all. You may instead be able to invest a shorter amount of time doing something you would prefer to do, on a very basic level, you could wash someone’s car while they tot up your monthly receipts.

Sometimes people will share with me feedback from workplace review procedures, where managers concentrate on the ‘weaknesses’ of employees as if these can be all ‘fixed’ after a period of 6-12 weeks. Now being aware of our weaknesses is one thing, and improvements can be made if effort is applied, but will your weaknesses ever become your strengths if you are not passionate about those areas? I would argue that it is unlikely, and believe it is a short sighted organization that doesn’t just mitigate employee weaknesses and concentrate on developing each employee’s greatest strengths.

So be kind and realistic with yourself, recognize your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses, whether it be to just stop pretending that you will do those tasks that you can’t or won’t ever do, or to start surrounding yourself with a ‘team’ of folks where you can each help each other. In sessions, I often ask clients to grab their to-do lists and have them tell me how they feel about their list. The common feedback is that there are one or two things that the client is eager and excited to do, a bunch of things that just need to be done and they will be tackled that week, followed by a handful of items that have been on the list for months, years even, and those items are ‘draining’. I then invite the client to cross those ‘draining’ items off the list, which is usually greeted by a snort or laugh, I however assure them that I am serious and ask them to take a pen and start to cross out those items that are not going to get done any time soon. The action of grabbing the pen alone helps them consider, if the items are truly important, how each may be achieved in more creative way!

So it’s the weekend challenge. Grab your own to do list and take a good look. Which are the items that you are just torturing yourself with? Then take out a very thick nibbed pen and begin to cross each of them out, remember to breathe and see what happens……you may notice that what you ‘need’ to complete that item will suddenly come to mind and if it doesn’t, just keep crossing, it’s obviously just not time for that item to be considered.

Have a great weekend with a shorter to-do list

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

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