Management Tips

How can comfort food teach us to act in our own best interests?

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

How about the good old back to basics PB + J sandwich? Ha, unless you have a nut allergy I know you love it (surprisingly 1% of North Americans actually have a peanut allergy, that’s huge). Personally, I am one of the fortunate ones so a PB+J is my version of the ultimate comfort food. Hey, maybe I am just a big kid at heart.

Let me ask you, when you make a PB+J how thick do you spread that peanut butter? Nice and thick I bet. I know I do. Woah, that sounds dirty and this is a professional site.

Anyway, why would you even consider spreading a thin layer of peanut butter?

That’s no fun.

It has to be thick to hold those bananas or provide a solid base for your jam. By the way, what’s your favorite flavor or condiment? Mine is orange marmalade. It might be an odd choice but not as odd as my brother who used to like salami on his PB+J (including the jam). Funny thing was that he never cared what type of jam or salami. He just loved that combination.

Now that’s a touch eccentric, huh?

So, when making a PB+J you really don’t want to skimp on the toppings and speaking of toppings there is certainly another place where you don’t want to spread anything too thin.

Your life.

I have wanted to write about this for a while but just haven’t found the time (hardy, har, har). There have been many times in my life where I have spread MYSELF way too thin by taking on work, agreeing to schedules or committing to a deadline that I know is going to sacrifice something else in my life that’s competing for my attention. It’s easy to do and highly dangerous. It’s really like ADHD gone wild. There’s a shiny new thing over here, oh, and over there too. Sure I will take that on. I can handle it. Of course.

I am Michael Stipe. Well, ok maybe Superman, then.

We have all done this in our lives. We have taken on work that we shouldn’t have and there are a good variety of reasons why we might:

  1. To advance our careers.
  2. To get recognition or praise.
  3. We feel we have to or have no choice.
  4. We want the experience.
  5. We want to give something back.
  6. It will make us more money.
  7. A friend recommended you and you don’t want to let them down.

All good reasons.

Well maybe except for no. 3 but that also depends on where you are on the hamster wheel. What form does the pyramid take in your work life and where do you sit in that hierarchy? I am asking because many of us, me included, can feel trapped on that hamster wheel going round and round without an end. Choices seem to be forced at times and in those moments is where we make those critical decisions of taking on work that we just can’t do.

Now, I am a big proponent of taking calculated risks. Risk is not where I am going here. We need risk in order to challenge our abilities, to grow our skills and to forge new relationships. Otherwise we would stagnate. This is really about being effective, present and remaining truly viable.

When we take on too much work and spread ourselves too thin what level of service are we giving to our clients, our colleagues or ultimately to ourselves?

Half-ass at best.

Now, I know for a fact that you deserve way better treatment than that. You demand it of the products you buy, the services you acquire and the friends you make. Why would you tolerate anything but full undivided attention or properly functioning equipment? You wouldn’t and I wouldn’t either.

Remember the last time you spoke to someone and they were far away? Where were they? Who knows. Well, I did that to my wife recently and I got the response I deserved (and expected) and it wasn’t necessarily pretty. Was I spreading my proverbial PB+J too thin at that particular moment? Yes, I think I was.

So, here’s what I am going to do to avoid this abhorrence of sandwich disrespect:

  1. I am going to learn to respectfully say no when I have to.
  2. I am going to be ok with saying no.
  3. When I say no I am going to remain calm because the band will play on without me.
  4. I am going to realize that I cannot alone solve the world’s problems and that someone else might be just as capable or more so than I.
  5. I am going to go back and focus on what I have to do.
  6. I am going to plan my work more closely so I know that I can say yes and when I do I can give it my all.

And number 7; since I started out this way I am going to go home and make a PB+J sandwich, sit down and enjoy it. That way I will be ready for the next task; rested, calm and focussed.

I am not Michael Stipe, after all.

  • Have you ever taken on work and regretted it?
  • How does saying no to work make you feel?
  • What strategies do you use to ensure your clients get the attention they deserve?

About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


12 thoughts on “How can comfort food teach us to act in our own best interests?

  1. I’ve got just 2 words for you: “Goober.”

    Posted by t | April 20, 2012, 21:31
    • basically describes a goober as a just a kindhearted, rather oblivious goofball. it’s term of endearment really or it could be a chocolat covered peanut. There you go, puddle jumper.

      Have a good one t…..;-)

      Posted by rdopping | April 21, 2012, 10:27
      • Both are valid options, but the Goober I eluded to was that little jar – the one that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the existense of God – and all because it contains both PB AND J within it. Double the flavor, double the fun, halve the time required to make your num-nums.

        Posted by t | April 24, 2012, 21:22
        • Clever. Must be a “foreign” product….:-) I have not seen it here. Yum. Certainly good to slake the hunger of such an auspicious creature as the Ranenous Bugbladder Beast of Traal. CDN out!

          Posted by rdopping | April 25, 2012, 05:43
  2. Good for you, and good luck. I have been guilty of over-committing at times so I have to be careful. If I say you have me, I want to make sure you have ‘all’ of me.

    It’s hard being Mr Wonderful all of the time, huh?

    Posted by billdorman | April 22, 2012, 08:35
  3. This was actually a huge problem for me and I’m still struggling at times. I just couldn’t say ‘no’, and although I always managed to deliver my commitments it cost me my sleep and time, lots of stress. Slowly, I started learning the art of politely rejecting something that seems too much. We can’t please everyone, no matter how much we want it! Great topic Ralph!

    Posted by sophiesignin | April 23, 2012, 03:50
  4. Thanks Sophie, scary gravatar……;-)

    The topic is one that has been a huge challenge for me in the past too. In recent years I have realized that it is ok to slow things down and as a result I have progressed further that I ever have in the past. Now it is about making the right choices as many times as possible. You’re bang on. We can’t please everyone nor will we ever. That is why when we take on what we are capable of and fully commit to it the results are so much better. Our ability and worth then has the potential to grow exponentially.

    Great comments. I really appreciate your input.

    Posted by rdopping | April 23, 2012, 05:59
  5. You got me at P&J!!! I eat it everyday for lunch and right now, homemade fig jam is my favorite. I’m not a jam person nor do I like figs but our Greek friend knows how to make this combination fit perfectly. Yummy…

    I’m also feeling you on the spreading ourselves too thin sometimes Ralph. I’ve been known to do that a time or two. Oh, I have no problem saying no though. I was an executive assistant for over 30 years so I know what I can and cannot do. I’m one of these people that my word means everything to me.

    So good for you. Glad you have learned these lessons and are no longer biting off more than you can chew.

    Posted by Adrienne Smith (@AdrienneSmith40) | April 23, 2012, 18:50
  6. Adrienne, welcome! It’s awesome to have you here.

    You are a funny girl….bite off more that I can chew. I did say i was going to try but #3 still gets me once in a while. I am getting much better at it though. I guess that’s why i said learn. Ah, it’s all good and as a exec ass’t I can imagine the pressure to make things happen. A good friend is in the same position and while she loves her job (or so it seems) she does suffer on occasion of falling into the trap of not saying enough.

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Posted by rdopping | April 23, 2012, 19:03
  7. So this was your 100th post and you didn’t even have candles?

    Posted by billdorman | May 23, 2012, 16:51
    • Nope. No candles, no fanfare, no nothing. It’s not like i didn’t know with wordpress saying “It’s your 100th Post” with a billion stars, etc. Guess i just figured it was one milestone of many. Thanks for popping by Bill.

      Posted by rdopping | May 23, 2012, 20:25

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