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.
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.
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:
- To advance our careers.
- To get recognition or praise.
- We feel we have to or have no choice.
- We want the experience.
- We want to give something back.
- It will make us more money.
- 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:
- I am going to learn to respectfully say no when I have to.
- I am going to be ok with saying no.
- When I say no I am going to remain calm because the band will play on without me.
- 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.
- I am going to go back and focus on what I have to do.
- 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?