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Your Emergency Isn't Mine


Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

How many times has someone approached you with some sort of urgent request, expecting you to drop everything and help them out? Okay, that might have been a redundant question. It has happened to us all and truth be told, we have all, at sometime or another, done it to others.


Of course, we to help people out, but at what expense?


Recently, I was talking with a business owner, who was currently up to their neck in trying to get through a whole lot of work that was backlogged, because of one customer who had come in with such a situation. The owner was putting in all kinds of extra time and paying overtime to some of the staff in order to get their schedule back on track to service all of her other customers. She was complaining that this customer had done it before and how frustrating it was.


After listening a bit, I asked her whether she would she agree to do it again, and she said, “Likely. I don’t have a choice.”


This is what, I want to talk about. Do you have a choice?


The simple answer is, of course you do, but there are a lot of business owners and leaders who do not believe they do. They are afraid of the consequences in leaving someone else in their own mess. What if that customer chose to go somewhere else?

What if that employee didn’t like me as a boss? What if something didn’t get done properly or not at all?


These are reasons, we buy into someone else’s mess, but did that person think about the situation in the same way, in relation to you? Did they think about whether you would send them off to someone else because you didn’t want the headache? Did they think about you not liking them as an employee? Did they worry about it not getting done properly or not at all? The simple answer is no, and yet here you are. The one with the mess.


It isn’t easy to tell someone else no. In fact, it can be pretty tough to do so, but there is value in being able to do it. Whether you recognize it or not, you are training the people around you every day in how to treat you. The customer with the repeated last minute request, knows they can put off their responsibilities until the last minute and can count on you to “save” them. Your employees know that if they procrastinate on a project, that when the going gets tough they can send it your way and you will make it happen. Even your kids know that you will never let them fail, even if it is at your expense.


There are people who are the “savers” and then there are people who are never asked to “save” anyone. The difference between the two only comes down to how they have trained the people in their environment.


The next time you find yourself complaining about being the one to work the long hours, or to put in all the time when you would rather be with your family and friends, just ask yourself if you have trained yourself to be that way.