I have come to the realization that, as a mother, I am doing a less-than-stellar job of teaching my kids to do basic things around the house, like doing laundry, changing a light bulb, or unloading the dishwasher. Posting a sign above the toilet that reads, "Changing the toilet paper roll doesn't cause brain damage," hasn't even made a dent in behavior. In all honesty, most of this has to do with my complete lack of patience in taking the extra time to teach them, as well as my desire to have things done to my standards. Thankfully, it has dawned on me that in less than one year’s time, my son will be off to college (fingers crossed!) and that if I don't modify my behavior, I will have to hire a maid to clean his dorm room everyday. Time is running out. I have to teach 'em how to fish!
Not surprisingly, my behavior at work used to be exactly the same. Back in the day, I fell into a pattern of doing things myself because it seemed easier than taking time to teach someone else. The irony was that half the time I was irritated that I was stuck doing the work. In essence, I wouldn't let go of my need to control, but somehow I expected others to do it for me. It's a little absurd when you really think about it. Once again, I just needed to teach 'em how to fish!
Take a minute to think about the last time you said, "I guess I'll just do it myself!" I would bet that there might have been a hint of frustration or sarcasm in your voice. If you can recall that moment, ask yourself whether the activity was something only you could do or if you just hadn't taken the necessary time to teach someone else.
Two things happen when you teach 'em to fish. First, you remove things from your to-do list that others are completely capable of taking over. Secondly, you empower others by expanding their skills and allowing them to take pride in their newfound accomplishments. I have definitely changed my style at work – some might even say I delegate everything – but I still have some serious work to do at home.
Do you teach others to fish?