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.
We are once again at the end of a week with no idea where the first days went. This seems to be a ritual with me. I am not sure why. I live near the Air Force Academy, and I guess the cadets up there must be rubbing off on me.
At the Academy, the cadets look at a week as a day. Monday is the new morning, Wednesday is lunchtime and Friday is the end of the day. For young people who have a lot to do and little free time to waste, I guess this makes sense.
I may have to run my projects by the week and, like the Academy, cadets look at each week as a day. It might make the week more interesting. It would help to organize and expedite a project. And it would make each section of the week more memorable.
Just a thought. Thanks for listening.
Thanks, we are glad to have you here with us again!
Have you been thinking about what we’ve been talking about this week? Have you been writing things down? This is your life. I think we each only get one, and it is important that you have the chance to live the life that does you honor.
I have been taking a course on various companies. Learning what motivated them. Learning about their passions. Learning what it took to become viable and sustainable. For the founders of these companies, it truly is work. It is the work of fulfilling their passion.
Two kids from the same high school, one in ends up flipping burgers and salting fries. The other is driving Mercedes and taking vacations to Hawaii. Why?
Think of life as trade offs.
Even better, think of where your passions live. What do you need to do to fulfill them? And, how that helps others because if done right, you could inspire generations that come after you. Don’t believe me? Three words: Disney, Ford, Edison.
I left yesterday with the cliffhanger. You can do anything that you want to; and, to do so you have to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Life is rarely handed to us on a silver platter. What makes our life so precious to us are the things we work and sacrifice for to make our lives better for our families and us. Anything just handed to us no matter how nice, unexpected, or needed, does not hold the same value to us as those things we scrimped, saved, or strived for.
So, the question becomes, who is the future you, and what are you willing to put into making it happen? If you haven’t done so yet, now, before others get up and speak for you, write down what you would want to say about yourself and the things you’ve done during your life and those things you want to do.
I know you feel you are doing a lot of writing this week. It is important. Think about a cartoon of a kid who shoots an arrow into the side of the building, and then runs out and draws the target around where the arrow had landed and thinks he has succeeded. Did he succeed? Or did he settle?
Do you want to succeed? Or do you want to settle? This is a decision you have to make, and I cannot tell you what is right or wrong for you.
Did you sit down and consider the questions from yesterday? Did you write something down?
I saw a saying that goes you can be anything you want to be. A Variation on the saying is that you can do anything you want to do. Another variation is you can go wherever you want to go in life.
For some people, those things appear to be just lip service. They point at obstacles, and hindrances, and the results of poor decisions because no one to give them a chance. At the same time, there are people whose mountain of concerns make other people’s look like molehills, and yet they succeed.
Many people look at those who succeed and say, “Sure, but there they are outliers.” My thought on that is, “Yeah, so?”
You can do whatever it is you set your mind to. And, the second part of that? You have to be willing to do what it takes to succeed.
We will talk about what that looks like tomorrow.
Last week we covered habits and systems. If you have the right systems inform the right habits to use them life gets a little easier. Without the right systems and the right habits, life gets tougher.
To understand what we need to do and why we must take a step higher, and look around. To help you with this, you need to get your notebook or writing pad, and you need to break down what is most important to you. This list is very important to you. You are making this list to better understand where your work is.
As you start to make your list, I’m learning to ask a few questions just to help you get started and to help you think a little bit about what is most important to you.
Which is most important:
- Does family come before or after employment?
- Which comes first, kids or friends?
- Do you take care of yourself or others first?
- Is your car a showpiece, or something to get you from point A to point B?
- Are you happy with the way your house or apartment looks? If not, what steps do you take to change the appearance?
- Do you ever not go to the doctor because of work needs?
- How many nights a week do you not get enough sleep? Why?
The next question tells you where you want to end up.
- If at the end of your life, your friends and family and former coworkers throw you a Three speeches are made about three significant things in your life. What do you want the three items to be? And what would you like the speakers to say?
When you get through thinking about this and writing everything down, a couple of questions are still left:
- If you make no changes, will the speeches say what you wanted to hear?
- If not, what would you change so the speeches could be given in a way you would like to hear them?
- What do you think it would take to make the speeches reality?
- Are you willing to put in the effort?
These are the questions for you to ponder. Making notes and writing things down is quite often less confusing and ensures that you will probably not forget the subtle things that you should remember along the way.
Looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow, have a great day.
Up until now, we’ve talked about systems and habits at home. Most workplaces also have systems in habits. Some of those systems and habits probably work well. Some could always work better with a little improvement.
There is always the formal workplace and the informal workplace. Both are important to the business. One is the direct channel that management uses to set up processes and requirements and to maintain the actions needed for the business to be sustained. The other is the method by which the workers take what management dictates and makes it happen.
As I said, one does not work well without the other. Smart management and smart workers know this. The really smart companies don’t set up new systems and requirements until the management and workers have sat down together and gone over them.
On the other hand, sometimes management sends down new processes that it expects to have implemented within two weeks. The workers who actually do the work day in and day out look at the new processes, find the places where it does not work well, and simply substitutes whatever they feel it takes to complete what they think should be accomplished. When this happens, no one is happy.
Changes always work best with good, logical explanations and positive agreement before implementation. Without this step, your new systems have just turned into hidden factories.
What is a hidden factory? Join us Monday for our next blog, and I will tell you all about it.