The perfectly normal-looking man is putting his head in the mouth of a very LARGE crocodile.
One might justifiably think to themselves, “That guy is insane!“
We are basing that judgment on the behavior we see.
After all, it’s his HEAD he is risking here!
Do we really know the whole story? We might assume we do, but, unfortunately, we do not. We don’t know his intention. We don’t know what drove his decision.
That made me think about decisions and actions. Do you trust yourself to always make the right decisions? Do you trust yourself to always ACT appropriately on the decision you’ve made?
Sometimes the answer to that is unequivocally “Absolutely!” But is it always that way? I doubt it.
If I’m trying to lose a few pounds, do I trust myself not to eat the homemade chocolate chip cookies that my mother baked just for my visit? Nope, don’t trust myself to make the right decision.
If I know I need sleep yet have a REALLY good book, do I trust myself not to stay up too late reading? Nope. Trust myself to make the right decision but don’t trust myself to ACT in accordance with that decision.
How about at work? Do you ever get overwhelmed by tasks to accomplish or meetings to attend so that you ACT in a way you don’t intend? Do you realize that other people are judging you on your actions and not your intentions? Scary, huh?!
Just this morning I was finishing up a meeting at 9:19, giving me plenty of time to get to my 9:30 coaching appointment. Then one of the meeting attendees dropped the “have you got a couple of minutes? I need help with a delicate situation.”
What’s a leader to do? Take care of the person in need right in front of you or keep the commitment to the client who planned for an hour session?
The right decision was to schedule a session with the person from the meeting and keep the commitment with my client.
What I did was talk to the first guy for 20 minutes and show up ten minutes late to my 9:30. I assumed the risk that neither client would fully get what they needed from me, but that was my way of accommodating those competing demands. Not a bad solution from MY perspective.
Reflecting on that further, though, yields a slightly different perspective.
The first guy could be left with only a partial or superficial solution to his delicate situation (which was pretty delicate). My coaching client could be left with the impression that I’m unreliable. After all, I can’t even be counted to show up on time.
My intention was to serve both clients to the best of my abilities. Did I do that? I don’t know. Had I acted on the right decision, I wouldn’t be left wondering.
So I ask you again, do you trust yourself to make good decisions and then act appropriately on those decisions?
Because, like it or not, your employees, family and friends judge you on your actions and not your intentions.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.