Last week I was reminded of some sage advice I received a few years ago that continues to stand me in good stead, so I thought I would pass it along. It applies in the workplace as well as in one's personal life.

Three years ago one of my clients in southern California asked me to attend the organization's annual weekend-long "all hands" meeting. My roles were to help the CEO present the results of a new employee compensation plan on Friday, and to conduct a series of focus groups on Saturday. The Tuesday before the meeting, I was invited to a surprise birthday party for my uncle in Houston on Saturday night. I really wanted to go: in addition to wishing my uncle well, I would have an opportunity to catch up with my eight cousins and their families. But the obligations to my client presented an obstacle. No matter how many different airports and airlines I checked, I couldn't find a way to get from California to Houston on Saturday afternoon in time for the party. I was about to call my aunt and tell her I couldn't make it, when fate intervened in the form of a phone call from a wise advisor.

Feeling very sorry for myself, I explained the situation to her. When I concluded my tale of woe by saying that I would have to miss the celebration and the rare opportunity to see all members of this family in the same place at the same time, my advisor quickly put things in perspective by asking, "Are you the only person in the world who can do these presentations?" When I admitted I was not, she suggested I find someone else to do them so I could be with my family.

I ended up attending my client's meeting on Friday to answer questions about the compensation system, as I had been the one to develop it. But I easily found a very qualified individual who was happy to conduct the focus groups for me on Saturday. I arrived in Houston in time to visit with my cousins before the party. And in case you're wondering, my uncle truly was surprised. (How my eight cousins, their spouses, and all of their kids managed to pull it off is another story!) My 24 hour trip to Houston was well worth the effort. And to think I might have missed it!

My advice to you: don't wait for a special occasion to ask yourself, "Am I the only person in the world who can do this [task]?" By delegating things that others can do and focusing on those that you are uniquely qualified to do (or that you love to do), you will experience a dramatic increase in well-being. As a bonus, those to whom you delegate the tasks may appreciate the work.

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.


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