One of my greatest fears in life is to be thought lazy. Ironically, it’s one of the main risks I have to run to actually do my job right.

I have the task of managing a small department in a small company. To be a good manager, I must delegate tasks. Here, the very thing that helped to get me to a managerial role – work ethic – can become my greatest source of self-sabotage.

It’s hard to give up things you’ve ben responsible for. This is harder in smaller company than it is in a larger one. At some point I have had to do all of the tasks which I can now begin to delegate to my team.

What this means is that delegation can at first look – to me and to my colleagues – like a shrinking of my responsibility and my commitments. And because I have a work ethic ingrained by training from two generations of farmers, this delegation triggers my fear of “laziness.”

If I listened to my fear of laziness, I’d continue to do everything I have done before. I’d remain the “expert” on everything, remain the bottleneck on certain key decisions, and be the person who volunteers to solve every problem. Certainly no one would consider me lazy then. I’d get the ego validation of being “essential” to my team.

If I did this, I would be sabotaging my team.

One person’s knowledge and time cannot scale along with the needs of a growing company. One person is not enough to bring all the great new ideas that could come from open information and shared responsibilities. By bottlenecking work around my own expertise, I would be slowing down progress for everyone.

If my job starts anywhere, it’s with a commitment to what is best for my company.

This means I must learn how to deal with the internal critic telling me I’m lazy when I delegate. I must learn how to be comfortable with the possibility that someone may see my delegation as a shirking of duty. I have to give up on the ego validation of being the only person who can do something.

It’s hard, but it helps to know I have no other choice. If I refused to delegate and kept bringing all of the work onto myself, I would ironically not be doing my job. And my Puritan work ethic would hate that.

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