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Recognizing An Opportunity to Teach or Delegate

Sep 13, 2021

Recently, I had the joy of spending some time with my granddaughter.  She is 6.  While there, I had to run some errands and she asked if she could come with me.  I explained to her that I was happy to have her join me, and although the errands might be kind of boring, we could still have a good time.  She said that she didn’t care and still wanted to come.  We went to FedEx.  There, I had 50+ pages of drawings to scan.  Normally, I would hand them to someone at the store, and they would scan them and hand them back in 15 minutes or so.  Unfortunately, the papers had gotten wet, so I had to scan each drawing individually.  She wanted to help and that is where this story begins…

As a business owner, we have a choice.  When we are presented with task that we know we can do quickly, on our own, it is often very tempting to just do it.  However, stop to consider a couple of things.

  1. Is there something else that may be more important for you to do, in which case, you could delegate this task?  If so, then delegate it.

  2. Is there an opportunity to train someone, or mentor someone, using this task?  If so, take the opportunity, you don’t always know when the next opportunity might arise.

If you answered yes to either of these questions and STILL chose to do the task yourself because “it is just easier or faster” you are hurting yourself.  You are keeping yourself tied to the tedious, mundane tasks taking away from the potential to grow and expand yourself and your business.

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, finding the balance between working hard to get ahead and making space to get ahead is not always clear.  We want to leverage these opportunities to grow talent so that we can bring in more clients, then more employees, then more clients and so on and so forth.  At some point in the game, we have to let go and go for it! Expansion then becomes a limitless possibility.

So, back to my granddaughter.  While we were scanning copies, she suggested “let’s do it this way…I’ll push the buttons and you put the paper on the tray”.  “Ok”, I told her.  After a few pages were scanned, she suggested “how about I open the scanner and you put the paper on and then I’ll push the buttons….”.  “Alright”, I agreed.  Then a few pages later she had a new variable to explore.  Each time she wanted to modify who did what, I agreed, and we did it the new way.  Finally, she looked at me and said, “I keep changing my mind, grandma, I should just make up my mind, right?”  I realized that here was an opportunity, “No, sweetheart, you are trying to maximize our efficiency by exploring different ways to do this. So, I am ok with you changing your mind.”

We then had a discussion about what maximizing efficiency meant…in 6 year-old language.   When we got home, she was excited and couldn’t wait to tell her mommy that she had “helped grandma maximize our efficiency while we were at FedEx.”  I realized that I just taken an opportunity that was handed to me and helped someone else learn something.  Did it take longer?  Yep!  Did we have fun?  Oh yeah!  Was it worth it?  Hell yes!

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