While my wife is off in Austin, along with 6500 of her closest librarian friends, at the Texas Library Association Conference this week, she left a task for one of the kids to do in the library while she is out (she’s the elementary librarian at the school two of our three children attend.) Instead of allowing the substitute librarian to try to figure out how to re-shelve the books, she asked that the books that were checked in be arranged on an open shelf for the time being and she would take care of it when she got back. So, my instructions to the older of the two girls was to complete the task. My instruction to the younger of the two was to either help her sister complete this task, or stay out of her way and don’t interfere  As I was riding in to work this morning, I got to thinking of how many times I have to give these same instructions in my professional life.

I’m sure we’ve all been there… at work… at a conference… at a professional organization meeting… on a committee… where once an idea is formulated, and a plan of action is in place, there are leaders, there are followers, there are those that do nothing, and then there is those that drag their feet and find ways to just get in the way. Kind of like what my kids do to sabotage each other.

It reminded me of some other sayings that I’ve used as a parent that seem to fit in my professional life:

  • Don’t try to spend 30 minutes to get out of a 10 minute task… you’re still going to have to do the task, and we’re all just going to be mad at each other.
  • Don’t deflect… your sister borrowing your favorite shirt doesn’t explain why you didn’t get your homework finished.
  • Don’t think that your failing at something means it’s going to reflect badly upon your teacher… If everyone else was able to get the work accomplished, the issue is with you, not the person handing out the instructions.
  • Doing a great job on an assignment doesn’t mean much if you forget to turn it in on time… Don’t tell me it’s an “A” paper if you turned it in two days late and got a “C”. What you have there is a “C” paper.
  • Believe it or not, we’re all on the same team here… We succeed or fail together.
I’m sure there are hundreds of more “parenting” sayings that fit the professional world. These are the one’s I could think of off the top of my head. So, the next time you’re on one of these committees and you hear someone deflecting an issue… feel free to ask them what does their sister borrowing their favorite shirt have to do with why they didn’t get something accomplished. Go ahead… it’ll be fun to watch the confused look on their face.