Recently our clothes dryer was not working. After the repairman said he could not find a problem, and charging us, he suggested we clean our vents. We both went outside and found a birds nest in the end of the vent. Rather than pay another $90, I climbed a ladder and started cleaning.
I could heard loud chirping from the trees behind me as I worked…I kept going. Our dryer began working great. Unfortunately, later that day, and to my horror, I found there had been eggs in the nest. I felt terrible. I vowed the birds would not have died in vain, so I reflected on my ways. Here are few of my lessons.
Take time to assess the situation. In my professional life, I have rushed ahead with an answer to a problem I had not properly defined. If I had taken more time to look in the vent, I would have found other options. In all cases, this has caused problems for me and others.
Implement the plan with care. Take your time to consider the unintended consequences of your plan before you act. Hold that email, give that phone call some time, ask a friend or colleague you trust for their assessment before you act.
Know how much to press. Sometimes we do need to keep a project or task on track (or dry our clothes). That task may be dependent on others who are slowing us down. Rather than force the situation, find out what may be delaying the problem. Or at least, think about why a reasonable person might not be responding as fast as you would like.
For Example. Following my bird encounter, I found myself waiting for a group’s response on a project. I needed something from them to complete my work. I had emailed and called a few people, but still no response. I finally emailed the one person I hoped could help. Rather than complain, I shared I was checking to see the timeline for follow up. I was also checking to make sure I had submitted my request appropriately. I shared that I was sure their team was very busy. She responded right away with the information I needed and thanked me for my patience. I was once again reminded of more effective ways of having crucial conversations.
As with the birds, this situation reminded of saying my by colleague Diane Schiller. Sometimes we need to use gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.
What lessons in did you have in patience this week? Please leave a comment about this on my website.