One of the things I don’t do well is delegate. I have to admit that I am really quite bad at it, and that this has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably as a result of my Accountability partners – those people with whom I speak multiple times a week, if not daily. They hold me accountable, ask how I’m doing, if I’ve kept up with my commitments, and they do so in the nicest way possible. Truly, I think if they approached and took the stance of, “Why haven’t you done this yet like you said you would,” I’d probably be less inclined to push myself to these higher standards.
And that’s what they do: push me to higher standards. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as productive as I have been over the last few months. And it’s due, in large part – like, a REALLY large part – to having these friends in my life.
But really, this post isn’t about them. They WILL appear in it, and they WILL get their OWN, separate and even MORE awesome post, but this one is about me and DELEGATION and DROPPING things off of my to do list and the EMPOWERMENT of others.
My inability to delegate, as fixed-mindset as this sounds, is, of course, rooted in the best of intentions. I come across it honestly. A very long time ago, I learned that if I wanted something done to my liking, I needed to do it myself. It was proven to me time and again that, if I tried to put my trust in someone else to get something done, it was never done to my high standards.
The ones I set for myself. The ones I never shared with anyone.
Yes, you know where I am going with this. It’s in that line, “time and again.” After the first one or two times of not getting the results I wanted, this was on ME! No one else. The reasons for the outcome can vary – you weren’t clear enough in your instructions, you didn’t speak your expectations out loud (or loudly enough), you didn’t follow up with someone after they “failed” you the first time… the list could go on and on. But the one thing all of these excuses have in common is YOU. Or in this case, ME.
What ends up happening when we don’t break out of our own bad habits, or when we don’t stop telling ourselves that “I’m just bad at something (whatever that thing is),” is actually three things:
1.) We take EVERYTHING on ourselves;
2.) We don’t DROP anything off of our plates, and:
3.) We aren’t able to EMPOWER anyone else.
A good friend of mine pushed my thinking this week when she asked,
“What can you do to make it possible for others to lead?”
This floored me. I couldn’t answer. I truly didn’t know, and had to wait until this writing so that I could work it out. I have heard the phrase (and even used it once or twice), “I need to get out of my own head,” before. I could easily fall back on the excuse that I am not good at delegating. What’s probably closer to the truth is that I find it hard to delegate when I’m always thinking about what else I should be doing as a leader, that I am never doing enough, and, worse still, that there are actually other people out there who think I’m not doing enough.
See what I mean? I really need to get out of my head. It grips me, and it stops me from doing what I know how to do; from doing what I am good at.
And it keeps me from delegating to others so that they have a chance to lead, and it keeps me from dropping things off of my plate so that I can be free to do the really important things that I always talk about but never seem to get around to do doing, and it keeps me from empowering others.
It keeps me from investing in people well before their opportunity to lead even opens up.
And this is not okay.