I used to work with this guy. He was awesome. He was aggressive. Sometimes he was a flat-out jerk. But I looked at his continual successes and never seemed to grasp WHY he was successful and why I was significantly less successful than he was in our organization. I thought ‘Oh, he probably just learned how to do this in college’! Nope turns out he just worked at a college before here – never graduated from there.
Maybe he just knew this stuff innately?
Maybe he’s just better than me?
Turns out he had been reading some books and thought it would be clever if he could reuse a protocol name to be something that he thought would be a great way to remember. Typically SNMP stands for ‘Simple Network Management Protocol’, but not for my colleague. For him it stood for:
‘So Not My Problem’.
You see – as I think of it, he was laser and mono-focused on achieving his goals. And he didn’t let other peoples’ priorities get in-between him and the goal line. Sure there would be setbacks by being re-tasked by management, but as I thought about it – He didn’t fail to meet goals hardly ever. Honestly – thinking back – I can’t think of a project he was in charge of that slipped timelines.
Unfortunately for me, this message started to sink in JUST as I was realizing that I had ignored Pillar 4 and Pillar 5 and was riding a sinking ship at the company. But rest assured – if you meet me in real life – I’m not a jerk. I’m kind, I care about people, but I have higher expectations than most. I WILL expect other people to handle their business and, frequently as a consultant I absolutely have to implement SNMP in my brain.
What’s the takeaway for you? Don’t let other people’s work issues become yours. If it’s not your problem, don’t take it from them.
Here’s the thing that I had to realize about this – it’s almost like being in a co-dependent relationship.
When you take someone else’s problem upon yourself, you rob them of growth they probably need.
You can offer advice if they ask for it, sure.
“OK, jackass, but I’m on a team” you might be thinking.
If you’re on a team and it’s the team’s problem, sure – work collaboratively together to fix the issues.
Here’s what is going on when we start to steal other people’s responsibilities away:
1: They start to depend on YOU, not themselves.
2: YOU get blamed when stuff that was theirs fails or goes undone.
3: YOU get in trouble, written up, or eventually fired because you took on too much (again – see Pillar 4 for this experience from my lens)
4: Eventually THEY get in trouble, written up, or fired because all of your load plus their load goes back to them and they’re not used to it.
No one wins, except maybe you both learned a lesson the hard way.
BUT DON’T DO THAT.
Just let them struggle a little bit. STRUGGLE IS REQUIRED required and it’s good for you. And if it’s OK for you, it is completely OK for them as well. Because remember:
Failure is the most important life lesson.
If you’re looking for a really good expanded version of this concept – Check out this book that rocked my world: Essentialism by Greg McKeown: