Who’s Got The Ball?

Ever feel overwhelmed? Ever seem like you’re doing too much of other people’s interests rather than your own? Ever feel like you’re always standing in line – waiting on you – behind everyone else?

I remember doing a pro bono talk for an organization some time ago. After the workshop was over, I was in a conversation with one of the attendees.  He was asking me some questions and requested my card, asking if he could be in touch, possibly with regard to a coaching interest. I heard from him by phone within a day or so, and he asked a lot of questions, finally requesting a sample business plan from me (rather than contracting me for $$$ to help him). No worries.  It’s a simple request, right? All I had to do was remember the request, and his email, likely stopping the car to write it down or making a quick on-the-fly voice memo only to circle back to it later. Then, when back in my office, I would simply T up his email, write a quick note and attach a template. Done.

Wait a minute. I’m a busy, and for the most part, productive guy. I have a business to run – profitably if I want it to continue. I have a family to love and invest quality time with. I have my faith, my health and my community to invest and engage in.  Why am I giving this guy something he’s done nothing to earn? No disrespect to him, but how much do we truly value what we don’t honestly earn? Not much. And he was likely no exception.

So…the new plan. Make ‘em earn it! 

Here’s what I really did in his case. On the phone, rather than saying, “Sure, I’ll fire that off to you when I’m back in my office”, I said, “Sure, send me an email and I’ll reply with the document you’re asking for.”  That changes everything! He has to work a little for his request. And, since his email is the trigger, I don’t have to remember anything until that shows up in my in box. In fact, after hanging up I don’t even have a new task, not until I receive the email. And guess what, if they really don’t value it, they won’t follow through. No wasted work spent!

What does this have to with a ball and who has it? In my first scenario, my guy hands me the ball; I dutifully oblige, take it home, deal with the request and fire it back. In my newfound approach, he tried to give me the ball and I gave it back! I don’t always want the ball, not in those circumstances.

So, next time you’re asked for something and time is of the essence, consider this…Who’s got the ball?

By the way, he never emailed me! Guess it wasn’t that important.