Drawing The Line At Work



There’s a saying goes something like “no good deed goes unpunished.” This seems like a cruel twist of fate, doesn’t it? Yet it’s interesting to see how often this really does happen in life.  For example, you step up to help at the cake walk at your child’s school, and now you’re being asked to join the PTA. Or you step in and help a volunteer organization for an event, and now they want you to become part of the leadership.

Or, you go out of your way to clean up another team member’s mess at work, and it’s assumed that you “like cleaning” and are expected to do it more often. Or, you complete a project above and beyond your typical job description, so the boss comes to you for the next project. Or, you agree to come in on short notice when a colleague calls out sick, and it’s assumed you would consider it next time it comes around.

In short, when we succeed or go above and beyond the typical employee, mother, or supporter of a cause, you increase others’ expectations of you. They now know that you are capable, willing, and likely available to help again. I can’t help but wonder: Wouldn’t there be a brand of employee that will purposefully avoid either offering or agreeing because they don’t want to be considered more than average?

They don’t want to be your “go to” person every time, so they hold back their best efforts so others will decide to “go to” someone else!  We might not even be doing this on purpose; it could well be an instinctive measure to keep the status quo, and blend in with the others. Those who shine are asked to lend their light to whatever task that is assigned, until that light gets dimmer and dimmer, and could very well snuff out for good (think about burnout, for example).

So what we need to do is try and be intentional about our asking and answering. If we are the one asking others to help, we need to be mindful of the workload we are putting on that person. Yes, they might be able to carry more than another, but even their strength has limits. Don’t run these folks into the ground.

If we are the answering person, the one saying “yes” to everything that comes along, we need to be very mindful of the workload we are taking on…it may be too much for even us. Yet it is hard to recognize that we have taken on too much, until we’re actually there, bending from the weight of it all.

Be honest with yourself and provide the best quality care and comfort you can—for your practice, your family, your own pets and more—and draw the line when needed. Tend to your light and keep it burning!

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