Thursday, September 08, 2011
Don't feed the animals
I had a boss that told me once (I'm paraphrasing):
"if you feed the animals, they will keep coming back."
Which is to say that only you control your calendar and your priorities. ESPECIALLY at companies of more than few people.
I find that many people in my company have a hard time with this. They really don't understand why their urgency is not my urgency, even when I agree with them. I can rationally understand why something is important to them. And I can even agree that it is important (in a general sense) for the company. But that doesn't mean I'll help (unless I truly have time!).
So mostly, no doesn't usually mean no (sometimes I will just flat out refuse, but it's rare). "No" usually means "not now." The fantastic corollary to this is that over time it is amazing how many things work themselves out.
There is a great old piece on this. Who's got the monkey? Written about subordinates, but equally relevant regarding peers. One of my favorites.