a NO handicap

Are you an over or under committer? I really did not need to read Matt Swanson’s Engineering – Over/Under: I’m a Serial Over Committer to know that I am an over committer.

My co-workers have recognized – but not taken advantage of – the fact that I have a NO handicap. Put basically this is an inability to say NO when people start talking about their projects, ideas or desire to hear me lecture. So I have always been like this and no matter how much extra work it places on me – I keep agreeing to more stuff.

In part this is out of flattery: You really want ME to talk, be a part of a project, write an article… But it’s also out of pure enthusiasm. When someone talks about an idea they have I immediately get into gear and starting thinking and sharing my thoughts. I quite regularly talk myself into volunteering work without even realizing it myself. I am that stupid. The problem is that the are too many projects. Some of them end up as dead ends – or even worse – as corpses along the road of my ever present guilty conscience.

There was more than a pang of recognition & amusement in the line Matt wrote:

“But you never finish anything!” is a meme that co-workers jokingly needle me with.

But fundamentally I disagree with it. The problem is not that things don’t get finished – its more that the ratio of finished/unfinished is extremely unbalanced. Of course there are 100s of projects I have never finished. If you ask my guilty conscience there are millions – I am basically an unfinished project that will never be completed.

The trick is, for me, to look at the problem in a different light. It’s not about what I do not finish but about looking about the number, impact and success of the projects I do finish. When I look at these I can smile and think: Not too shabby. At least until the phone rings and someone asks if I could…

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