Stop waiting for others…and you’ll find autonomy, flexibility, and productivity

August 12, 2009 by Jared Goralnick

WaitingBeing in a very different time zone than my team and clients this summer, it becomes clear who gets things done and who is suited for government work*.

Of which sort are you?  It’s easy to fall into the government camp from time to time, so this is a quick reminder of how much you can do on your own.

*I worked for the government during my three years of college.  I learned the cardinal rule and cardinal sin in the government: there’s always someone else to wait on before you can start a task.  CYA is having someone to claim you’re waiting on.

Then during school breaks I worked at startups.  I had a lot of questions, sure, but when people weren’t available I just found a way around them.  I learned that when you don’t know the best path you can at least choose a good one.  Even if you guess wrong you’ll still better understand the problem.

So here I am six hours ahead of my team and clients.  Some of them forge ahead when I can’t answer a question, and some stop in their tracks.

So how do you forge ahead?

  • Trust that you know how to solve the problem on your own (think of it this way: some people are indecisive when it comes to deciding what to eat—but those people don’t die of starvation when they’re on their own.  Just trust in your capability to make decisions.)
  • Trust that some solution is better than no solution
  • Recognize that you’ll be rewarded for taking a chance but not for standing still
  • Recognize that the more independent you can be, the more flexibility and autonomy you’ll earn at work
  • Just do it

I have many items in my task list which are waiting on insight from other people.  But after a day or two, I’ll just act on my own.  Those people eventually become crutches, and I know I can walk on without them.

You probably already know all this.  But the tough question to ask yourself now is this: is there something you could be making progress on if you stopped waiting for someone to push things forward?

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4 Responses to “Stop waiting for others…and you’ll find autonomy, flexibility, and productivity”

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  1. Thursday Bram

    As much as I like my clients, many of them could do quite well in a government job. Getting what I need to move forward can be like pulling teeth — but I’ve found that it’s often possible to get a lot done, no matter what I’m waiting for a client to give me. Worst case scenario, I can always move on to another project entirely in the meanwhile.

  2. Corporate Barbarian

    I learned a good lesson many years ago: It’s easier to get forgiveness than to get permission. When I run into a roadblock, I try to figure out a way around it, and just do it. I may step on some toes, and hurt some feelings, but if having to wait for someone’s sign-off on something is compromising my goal, I’m not afraid of surging ahead. As you can tell, I like to work out-of-the-box.

  3. Jared Goralnick

    Great to hear you’re able to find a way to move forward, Thursday!

    Amen, Corporate B!

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