I Can Do It Myself!

Are you familiar with the terms “Terrible Two’s” or “Three-nager”?

These are terms parents with toddlers use to describe their child’s growth toward independence. Typically, the parent is told rather forcibly, “I can do it myself!” If you are, or have been, a parent of a young toddler you are likely smiling. If not, let me give you a quick example.

Little Tommy says he’s thirsty. Mom asks him to bring his cup to the sink and she will fill it with water. She reaches for the cup, but Tommy quickly pulls it away. He works hard at trying to get a screw-top lid off his cup to help. Mom reaches again, and Tommy yells, “I can do it myself!” And thus begins the power struggle of Tommy’s independence vs. Mom’s knowledge and time-efficiency. 

I’m certain most of us (myself included) have fallen victim to the Terrible Two’s even as an adult.

We have a never-ending to-do list filled with tasks that must be completed by the end of the business day. As the task list grows, we become more and more frustrated. We feel like we’re drowning. Your conscious thoughts tell you that you could ask for help, but instead you respond with “I can do it myself!” After all, “it would take more time and effort to ask for help than if I just did it myself.” Right? . . . Not necessarily. 

Just like Mom must intervene to help her toddler remove the lid of a cup, we need to allow ourselves to delegate tasks so we can get more things done within a single day without becoming overwhelmed and frustrated. We know what happens when a toddler gets frustrated—they scream, cry, and sometimes have a full-blown tantrum. Overwhelmed adults can also react in a similar way when expressing feelings of stress and frustration. 

Let’s examine this from a different point of view. 

With the help of the Internet, we can research and learn anything on our own these days. But SHOULD we? 

Let’s say your time is valued at $100 per hour. The more efficiently you budget your billable time, the more successful your business will be. 

Imagine this, you’ve researched a new production system for your business. You’re pretty pumped about it. In fact, you’re so excited that you start playing with the software and begin setting things up. You could give this task to an employee or hire an outsider to set this up for you. “But why?” you say to yourself, “I know our company and can do this myself and save so much money in the process.” 

So, you begin tinkering. You watch countless YouTube videos and read several support chats on how to set it up. It takes 30 hours to set up a new production system, which means you’ve invested $3,000 of time that could have been spent on billable tasks.

Did you really save your business any money? Perhaps you should have invested that $3,000 into paying someone who knows the software and could have completed the setup in one-third of the time! (Not to mention it would likely run better!) 

I know what you’re thinking. If the toddler was given the opportunity to open his own cup, versus having Mom swoop in and do it for him, he’d learn a new skill.

Good point. 

But, let’s go back to our production software analogy. If you plan to manage this new system, it may make sense to invest in learning it, so you know how it works from the ground up.  

The moral of the story? Always consider the value of your time and invest in it wisely. Learn to delegate and outsource when it makes sense. 

Resist the mindset of doing it all yourself because it feels like the easier solution, and instead invest in the people and community surrounding you. You just might be surprised by how efficient your team and business can be.


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