Every day you learn something new is a good day — that’s what my mother taught me.
As someone who grew up with ADHD (and still dealing with it), I was not overly successful at getting things done at school. My inability to sit in one place and do one action at a time prevented me from focusing. Often, sitting at class led me to doodle in my notebook or, worse, being asked to leave the classroom all together. For me the result was the same: missing a lot of classroom material.
For me, the gods of fortune smiled at me and sent me a persistent mother that knew a thing or two about how to raise a kid like me (she has ADHD too). So I learned everything I needed to learn again at home, surrounded by my own favorite distractions in a protected environment. It was one of the best things ever to happen to me.
Why was it such a good thing?
Because someone who fails in one environment (i.e. class) needs to compensate with little victories in other environments (i.e. home) to remain stable and develop. I gained my little victories at home, studying both from encyclopedias and history books, gradually getting addicted to auto-didacticism and the ensuing benefits.
The passing years taught me to manage my time better and segment my work more effectively, ultimately helping me get more done. I have also learned to harness people around me. Hey, if someone can do a job as well as you, why not let him do the job for you, right? …Ah, the hubris.
So, I started to manage more and do less, outsourcing most of my tasks: one after the other, small tasks, big tasks, short tasks, long tasks…you name it. I figured out that if I don’t work on mundane tasks, I’ll have more time to explore my more creative side and work on those things that matter to me the most.
Sure, it worked at first; I was able to get more things done, but there were a few things that I didn’t take under consideration that hurt my ability to continue doing so effectively over time.
1. All my life I made sure I learned something new each passing day. When I began to outsource tasks, I experienced a steady decline in my motivation to learn because I thought to myself that someone else can do it for me… and probably better. I was hiring people to do professional tasks for me instead of learning how to do them myself.
This developed my managerial skills for sure, but prevented me from developing new capabilities. Today you can outsource just about anything, so why should I keep learning what to do when there’s a cheaper, faster option waiting a few clicks away?
2. I started missing out on opportunities — not only learning opportunities, but also opportunities related to my projects and goals. Being out there, doing things, experiencing them first hand — there’s no substitute for that. If someone else does that for you, you’re probably missing out on a lot of things without ever knowing.
3. Outsourcing most of my tasks left a vacancy that I filled with leisure activities. Instead of personal development, I spent more time on leisure activities. Don’t get me wrong, leisure is great, but too much numbs your mind and makes you lazy.
Outsourcing is a slippery slope; you don’t want the success of your project hanging on someone else’s shoulders. Too much reliance on someone else is a sure way to fail. If knowledge is power, you’re giving up that power, hanging your hopes on someone else and making yourself irrelevant. You can remain in your managerial comfort zone for a while, but as I mentioned, something will eventually flush you out. If you’re living an easy and comfortable life because someone else is slaving for you, when things will change (and they usually do), you’ll find yourself facing reality’s cold blank stare.
So learn how to outsource and manage your projects without losing touch. Make sure that when you’re leading, you’re in the trenches and not shouting commands from afar.
Until next time.