7 Things That Aren't My Job
I don’t know everything, but I know enough to understand that time is one of my most valuable resources. The way I use my time and direct my energy on a daily basis is indicative of how my life is going to progress. There’s no way around that.
Embracing this train of thought has allowed me to become more clear about the boundaries that I have to set in order to ensure my own sanity and prosperity. Here are seven different things that are never going to be part of my job description.
1. Answering questions that they should be Googling.
I like to help people when I can. I think it’s a blessing that I’m in a position where other people see fit to ask me for guidance. That being said, I am not Google, Siri, Yelp, or Wikipedia. If someone asks me a question that they could easily answer with the help of a smartphone and wifi network, it makes me feel like they don’t value my time. This is an example of an inconsiderate act that can lead to more egregious forms of disrespect, if left unchecked. Don't let little annoying things accumulate to the point that they make you resent someone's entire existence.
2. “Putting you on.”
I want everyone to win, but it’s not my responsibility to ensure that everyone crosses the finish line. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love, support, and encouragement that I get from my friends and family. We all need encouragement, support, and guidance from our circles. Trust and love are the foundation of those relationships. There’s a lot of give and take in those relationships. It becomes an issue when people view you as a resource to benefit them, as opposed to another human being with wants, needs, and limitations. People who lack initiative will reach out to those who seem to have things “figured out,” from their vantage point. They’ll ask for things that they’re not ready for.
When someone asks me for a favor, “can I do it” is just the first question that I ask myself. I subsequently have to ask myself if I should do it. I’m not connecting an acquaintance with someone I know unless I think that connection will be mutually beneficial. I’m not sharing things with the audience that I’ve built unless I think it will resonate with them. Closed mouths don’t get fed, but at some point you have to find your own meals.
"Closed mouths don't get fed, but at some point you have to find your own meals."
3. Responding to communication that lacks empathy, context or consideration.
I don't have to respond to every single email, text, or tweet that I receive. I probably could, but I'm not sure when I'd have time for activities like sleeping, eating, or breathing. I need a filter. I need to make space for things that matter to me the most. I make space for those things by allowing myself to ignore things that aren't meant for me. If it's a mass email with irrelevant content, it's not for me. If it's an unsaved number asking me to listen to their somebody's mixtape, it's not for me. If it's a "business inquiry" asking me to work with no form of compensation mentioned, it's...well, you get the idea.
4. Turning their poor planning into my urgent deadline.
I can’t walk on water, understand more than 50% of Sean Paul’s verses on “Gimme The Light,” or complete a two-month project in three weeks. Understanding all three of these things has saved me a considerable amount of embarrassment over the years. Holding tight to the last has saved me from reputation-damaging client disputes. I need to work with people who have the forethought to seek out help on their projects before it’s too late. I have to work with people who have realistic expectations, or at least are willing to listen to my perspective about whether or not a timetable is realistic. We can be especially susceptible to picking up unreasonable clients when business feels slow, but putting yourself into a situation where the risk outweighs the reward is never going to make anything better.
5. Working for less than what I’m worth.
Negotiations are an inevitable part of business. Every time I seek to start a new business relationship, I have to remain clear on what I want, what I need, and what I cannot accept. It’s better to let go of a potential client who can’t afford my services than to give them a discounted rate that doesn’t allow me to put forth my best effort. If someone’s not prepared to compensate you appropriately for your time, work, and expertise, don’t be afraid to say “no.” Your reputation matters, and you have bills to pay.
6. Tailoring my message to meet their approval.
I’m not here to please people. I can’t help everybody. I can’t be on everybody’s side. I have a specific set of principles that guide the way I operate. I know what I stand for and I like what I like. The wonderful thing about social media is that no one forces us to follow, engage, or interact with anyone else. The block, mute, unfollow, and unfriend buttons are at our disposal. If we want to say anything of substance, we have to be comfortable with the fact that there will be positive and negative reactions to our message.
7. Dimming my light to make them comfortable.
A lot of brilliant, gifted people are manipulated into avoiding their true potential to avoid making people around them feel uncomfortable or inferior. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to stand out. They don’t want to be ridiculed by people who can’t or won’t do what they do. I understand that train of thought, but I’m not buying it. We all are given a unique set of circumstances, talents, and experiences so that we can fulfill a specific purpose. You can’t afford to sacrifice your continued glo up for the sake of being more likeable or less disconcerting.
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