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:

  1. With whom might you hesitate to reach out for some help because they are/might be too busy for your needs?
  2. 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.”