My 84 year-old father is moving from Maui in October to live close to me. I’ve spent more than a month assessing retirement centers and helping him make a decision from very far away on a place to live for rest of his life. I’ve done a consultant’s job of assessing quality of center, environment, and typical residents. Now we are in the space of anticipating the move and the change in both of our lives.
I am excited to have a parent close by and for my dad to be part of my life in a way that is impossible to experience from so far away. Last week when we were talking about how he would spend his time (e.g., volunteer work, entertainment, etc.), he said:
“I know you are very busy. I don’t expect that we will even see each other every week. I’m hoping you might want to go to the orchestra with me…”
I quickly protested that “Of course, we will see each other.” But, after the call, I felt like I had been hit in the face. OF COURSE, I HAVE TIME FOR YOU, DAD!
I’m writing about this experience because it reminded me that sometimes I hesitate to “bother” people who could help me. They are (always) so busy. With clients, I regularly prompt them to reach out to me whenever I can be of assistance—don’t hesitate to call. But, I do hesitate to take their time unless absolutely necessary.
When I was a senior consultant at Sibson & Company, I remember a small client assignment that I was doing by myself. The client and situation were very challenging. One evening, between days working with the client, I put a call into a trusted partner in the firm, a fabulous guy named John Balkcom. I told him I really needed him to call me in my hotel, however late. When he called, I apologized for taking his time. He snapped back, “What do you mean? I always have time for you. I have a phone with me. I have time every day.” He helped me tremendously in my planning for the next day with the client. But, most importantly, it was a wake-up call that I often stay alone too long in a problem. I don’t want to bother people.
So, the two questions for you are:
- With whom might you hesitate to reach out for some help because they are/might be too busy for your needs?
- For whom might you seem to busy to help (even though you’ve told him or her to contact you)?
And, maybe it’s not just a helping hand. Maybe it’s about taking ten minutes for a check-in call or a pop-by-the-cubicle conversation. Sometimes those casual chats can quickly uncover easy ways you/we can add value right in that moment. Or, maybe it’s just the pleasure of a casual, friendly reconnection.
If you think of a person or two, you might even just say in some way “I have time for you.”