I’m a big fan of delegating work. I’m not always good at delegating work, but I’m a big fan of it. In general, you should delegate work that:
you aren’t good at doing
you don’t like doing
keeps you from doing the work you should be doing
Like I said, I’m a big fan of delegating work. But you know what I like even more than delegating work?
Most of us, when faced with an unpleasant task, do one or more of the following:
we push it off onto someone else (i.e., delegate)
we do it grudgingly (and complain about it before, during, and after)
How much easier would our lives be if, rather than go through this whole unpleasant process, we were to first ask ourselves this one, simple question:
Does it really need to be done at all?
Many years ago, when I was producing a comedy/talk TV show in Seattle, we were going through a bit of a crisis. Our original show host had left for a greater opportunity in Los Angeles, and I promoted one of the other cast members to become the new host. The only problem was that the new host was terrible at doing interviews! I remember the entire next year (Season 5) as a miserable one. The show just wasn’t working.
I spent the summer between Season 5 and Season 6 trying to fix what was wrong. Could we get an “interview coach” for our host? Could we increase the budget to bring in better guests? Could we have someone else – a co-host, perhaps – do the interviews? Finally, in desperation, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to do the interviews at all?”
That led to the question, “Well, if we didn’t do interviews, what would we do to fill the time?” This led to more options: musical acts, more sketches, audience bits. For one reason or another, these options proved to be either not appealing or not feasible. Another desperate question:
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to fill the time at all?”
Well, that would mean that we’d be a half-hour show instead of an hour. A half-hour of what we did best! Basically, we could just keep the stuff that was working and delete the stuff that wasn’t. And, as a half-hour show, we could move to a better time slot, as the lead-in to Saturday Night Live.
And as soon as we did that, we went to number one in our time slot and stayed there for ten straight years.
All because we deleted what wasn’t working. We didn’t fix it. We didn’t delegate it. We deleted it.
Now look, I’m a realist. Sometimes you gotta do the crappy stuff. Sometimes you gotta, as my colleague Brian Tracy says, Eat That Frog!
But not always.
So the next time you have an odious job in front of you, the next time you think you need to fix something that’s not working, the next time you’re told to eat a frog, ask yourself:
Do I really need to eat that frog?
If the answer is yes, then eat it quickly and get it over with. But you may be surprised how often the answer is no.
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