Be the solution, not the problem
It is surprising how often I'd come to a fellow co-worker with a request, only to hear back that “It can't be done.” Though sometimes (more or less often than not?) that's how I behave too. So here's a simple reminder to myself and anyone who cares about such things — don't become a problem.
Try to become a solution, if possible.
|Hammer or Nail — which one are you usually? (photo by Andrea Bosio)
The thinking here is straightforward. If somebody (customer? boss? colleague? friend?) asks me to do something — there is a problem they have that needs solving.
It may be that they don't explain the problem and try to tell you a solution instead (the worst kind of request). Or that they don't understand the effort involved. Or that you're not the right person to do it — no skills or time. All of that is possible.
It may even be that the problem they try to solve is to actually keep you occupied so you can continue getting a salary, heh.
Yet there is always a reason, a problem. And when you immediately push back, no explanation, no pause to even think about a solution, — you add yourself to that problem. Now not only is the original problem still unsolved, but there is also a problem of you — providing poor service, showing insubordination etc.
So — try to be the solution. If you can't — be merciful enough to show that you've tried, and give your best idea of who or how it could be solved, even without you.
We can all be professional buck-passers, but that isn't the best way. If you go back to my team as an ecosystem analogy, you'll understand why it is better to work on reducing the number of problems in your environment, instead of introducing more.
It just makes everyone's life better. You included. Me included, too.