I have been noticing my tendency at work and home to jump into a problem or need and “take care of things.” I’m not a perfectionist or a person who thinks I need to do it all. Yet, I watch how I take on a task or work that isn’t really mine. When reflecting on the pattern, I see a long list of calls to action that include:
- Requests to help think through some piece of work.
- Requests to complete a task (that isn’t my work).
- A set of steps that I could delegate (even to a client), but I don’t. I say, “I’ll do that.”
- A job that I am worried won’t get done well (of course, I don’t really have time to do it).
It’s not about delegation for me. It’s more nearly about some instinct to take care of things, to absorb what needs to be done, to shield myself or someone close to my work from a negative outcome.
The trickiest situation is when I recognize that I have simply kept moving—right into what someone else could do. At home, I might simply set the table rather than round up my son. At work, I might draft an email rather than ask a client to do so.
At what cost? Two easy ones occur to me:
- Many task are a poor use of my time.
- The same overwhelm that you experience, only unnecessary.
More importantly, by somehow moving into and taking on these tasks, I am taking the opportunity away from my staff, clients, husband, or son to do their part well. If I’m not Superwoman, why not let my team be the hero (notice the small “h”)?
How are you holding onto or jumping into work or decisions that have a cost to you? Or worse, a cost to the person who should or could be doing the task? Can you step back and create a hero on your team today?