I was taught a valuable business lesson a few weeks ago…by a twelve year old. At the time, I didn’t realize the benefit to the process that we were going through, nor the impact that it would have on me days later.
She had a school assignment, somewhat complex and obviously daunting to her. I didn’t see it that way, reminded her numerous times regarding the deadline and watched and got frustrated over the course of the weekend as she procrastinated, ducked and weaved and did everything but what was required for the assignment.
Expecting her to ‘just do it’, I was prepared to let her not get the work done, stumble and learn the lesson the hard way.
But as I watched her in her struggle, I realized that this was not a case of just procrastination for procrastination’s sake, but a deeper level of anxiety. She was unsure of next steps, not confident in the subject material and a general fear of being judge for the work…much worse than being judged for not having it done.
So, we sat down and broke the project into components, put timelines and expectations around each of the components, made a plan and stuck to it. And by breaking down each of the components, there was less anxiety about the entire project. We went from one requirement to the next and the project was completed, on time, and was a really good job. And more importantly, it turned out to be a lot of fun and a great bonding moment.
Didn’t think much more about it until Tuesday. Had a pile of stuff to do for meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and felt completely overwhelmed. But as I thought back to that great weekend and the project (a procrastination technique), I realized first, how overwhelming the project could have been for her and what I needed to do to get through my workload. Broke it down into components, worked through each one and eventually got through it.
Thanks to the 12 year old for putting things into perspective, making me a better business person, people manager and a dad.