Have Many Irons in the Fire?

Too many irons in the fire hark back to the days of blacksmiths when irons were heated in a fire stoked by a bellows.  The irons were heated red hot and then pounded into shape by the blacksmith using an anvil and hammer. Having too many irons in the fire meant that the blacksmith could not handle all the work he had to do. Today, we use the saying for too many projects that we’re doing.

It is in our training and in our desire to help. We take on some tasks which interest us we take on even more because the powers-that-be want us to do more. And sometimes there is not enough money for two people to do the tasks and therefore one is let go in the other one has to do the tasks for both. This happens more than you think.

Often, this takes place without a lot of complaint up the chain. For one thing, we still want the job, and the higher workload is one of the requirements to keep it. Another item that’s not so well understood is that many of us are wired to take on added work and/or are ashamed to admit that we need help. We see asking for help as a sign of weakness.

Here’s the question, and if you’re new to our blog so I always ask questions. Is it better work as hard as you can, knowing some things will fall through the cracks; or, is it better to ask for assistance or delegate work?

As much as we would like to be the hero, save the day, get all our work done and never need to ask for help, it does not always happen. Would you rather be standing in the boardroom explaining why a pet project was not completed? Would you rather be standing in the board room,  congratulated along with your team that helped to complete the project?

We all live with some fear in the back of our mind about what others may think of us. Most of that fear leads us in wrong directions. Leadership always prefers the person with that will ask for help when needed because the action shows they put the project first. And everything being equal, leadership respects and honors positive project actions.

Next time you have too many irons in the fire get a few more blacksmiths and just pound that project out.

Thanks for being with us. We have piled up a few irons in the fire ourselves. And I am hoping by the end of this week or the beginning of next we will have some exciting news to share.

Author: Mike Balof

Mike Balof, MEd, develops intensive, interactive courses which have helped contract manufacturing and nonprofit institutions. He taught youth and adults seeking employment to better represent themselves, leading many of them to successful careers. Mike taught in corporate training, teaching adults and high school students to build computers, work as a team, and to identify and fix problems using a myriad of tools from Total Quality Management(TQM), to 8-D, to Six Sigma. Mike now turns his talents to helping fellow veterans reach their objectives and desires through continuous performance improvement. As we start to live in a post knowledge world, where a doubling of common knowledge shrinks from months to days, our essential skills will include how we interact with those around us. Mike believes there is hope for growth and opportunity for everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to retool and find the career they want. Mike strives to present students of all ages, abilities, and means with a full plate of options for learning.

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