I was trying to figure this out the other day and instead of finding the answer, I found myself asking yet another question: “What am I doing for others that they should be doing for themselves?” Now, I’m not abdicating suggesting that you shouldn’t help others. I’m talking about the things that we do either because we don’t take the time to train others how to do it (you know what I’m talking about – insert the “I can do it faster myself” philosophy here), or doing things because we think we are helping.
I think we have two different issues going on here. The first issue is, not taking the time to train and develop our folks. Reality is: you can probably do it faster and better than anyone else. However, the real question is “Should you be doing it at all?” As a leader, that is one of the more important question to ask yourself. Is this something I should be doing? When leaders stop and really think about it, the answer often is no. They come to this realization: “I have other people on my team who could or should or would like to do this; however, I am still doing it myself. So if I keep doing it, then I am not able to do my job. I can’t truly lead at the level I could if I am always doing work of my team.” There are probably multiple reasons for your choices. Fear often works its way into this equation – I know I am really good at this work, but what if I am not great at the work I am now expected to do? Fear is a powerful emotion and can often stop us dead in our tracks.
The other issue is our need to “help.” In our society, we often confuse “help” with “fix.” If someone asks me for help, based on my mindset, I might jump right into action with the question – “What do you need me to do?” Well sometimes there is a to-do, but often there isn’t. Learning that help might mean just listening, being supportive, or brainstorming is very different then taking on the problem myself. For me personally, this is a challenge. I get great satisfaction from being there and saving the day. However, I have come to realize that my desire to feel needed often has an adverse impact on someone else. What I mean by that is my “fix” is often not what the person needs or wants. My “fix” works for me, but not necessarily for anyone else. My “fix” can take away the natural consequence and life lesson that this person is supposed to learn.
I started this by asking, “Why am I so tired?” The truth is, trying to do everything myself and doing other people’s everything, would – in fact – make someone exhausted. In light of that, how could I not be tired?
If you find yourself in the same boat, a few key questions to consider are:
- What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing?
This could be as simple as making your 12-year-old daughter’s lunch, all the way up to dealing with a sticky situation at work, that one of your employees should be handling.
- What is my initial response (gut level) when someone comes to me and needs help?
Take a moment to pause and ask yourself what real help would look like in the moment – reminding yourself that in most cases help does not equal fix..