October 8, 2007

Good day, team,
I received some requests last week to re-send this challenge that was originally sent out in January of 2006. It seems timely.


Good day, team,

The challenge this week is about realizing that we are not indispensable and working to cultivate backup and support. At this time of year, we are much more susceptible to colds and flu, and we often find ourselves struggling with the question “Am I well enough to go to work?” Yet we all know that it’s pretty stupid to go to work when we’re sick. Not only do we function poorly, but we also expose others to our illness. I often see whole departments affected because one person felt that he or she was well enough to go to work, and then many other people in the department caught that person’s illness.

So why do we go to work when we’re ill? Perhaps we think that we’re indispensable and the work won’t get done if we’re not there. This is an illusion. Anyone who has been away from work for an extended period of time knows that somehow the work gets done. At times it’s done better by the person who pitches in for us when we’re out! One of the advantages of being part of a team is that our team members support us when we need it most. There’s nothing more gratifying than being able to help someone when they really need us.

Unfortunately, none of us wants to think that we can easily be replaced, so often we make unreasonable demands upon ourselves to show up to get the work done. Generally, people who think they’re indispensable have a difficult time letting go of control. Be honest with yourself. Are you cultivating this attitude because you’re really afraid that if you don’t do it, the work won’t get done at all, or because you can’t control the outcome? We all know that it’s never just a single person who accomplishes a task, but a team of well-coordinated, talented people who make it happen. No one is indispensable, and thinking that we are keeps us imprisoned in our fear of losing control.

Try challenging your attitudes about being indispensable this week and look at whether or not you have sufficient backup. If you don’t have people to delegate to, set up a good support system for yourself in case you have to be out of work for a time. Ask yourself, “Who do I rely on most for support?” Let the person who supports you know how much you rely on them. This helps a lot when you wake up some morning with a splitting headache and sore throat. With one phone call, you can easily engage your team member to take over, and that person won’t be surprised by the request.

Having backup also makes it easier when you call your boss to say you won’t be in. You can reassure her or him that the work will be done by your team member and that the team is covering for you. If you work on your own, take a look at your network of business associates and friends. See if there’s someone who can back you up if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted friend or colleague. You may find that person asking you to return the favor, and then you both get to feel dispensable but valuable!

Have a great week and stay healthy!


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